Finding Truth

Greetings all in the name of our King Jesus, it has been awhile since I last blogged. I have been traveling on various missions all around Kenya, Uganda and most recently Tanzania.

I was so blessed to connect again with a beautiful family from the Middle East. Their commitment to the Lord is inspiring and I want to share a testimony from a dear sister in Christ. (For their safety, all names have been change.)

Testimony of finding Truth

 Kristen was Born to a very loving Muslim family in 1989. As a family they where very committed to their faith, Kristen prayed 5 times a day, read the Koran and studied at the madrasah (Muslim school) through high school. Kristen loved Allah and Muhammad very much.

After High School, Kristen went to train as a Lady Health Visitor [LHV], this was her mother’s desire for her. In order to study, Kristen had to stay in a hostel. This was the first time she had ever been away from home without being accompanied by her father. She passed her first year and entered into her second year.  At this time, Kristen met a new first year student called Lorna. They became close friends. Lorna told her family about Kristen, and Kristen also told her mother and grandmother about her new friend, Lorna.

As their friendship grew Kristen learned that Lorna’s family converted from Islam to Christianity, she was not happy to hear this. She asked Lorna’s mother Naomi, “How could you do such a thing?”  Naomi responded that Kristen had not read the Bible. They discussed this further, and Kristen accused Naomi of not reading the Koran with the correct interpretation. Naomi responded with a smile saying, “When you read the Bible you will not talk like this.” Kristen knew that the Bible was one of the five Holy Books, but she believed that the Koran had the final authority.  When Kristen’s mother and grandmother learned that Lorna’s family was Christian, she was told to stay away from them. Kristen did not follow their advice and continued the friendship.

Because Naomi stayed busy working at her medical clinic she was not always available to answer any questions Kristen had, so Lorna’s twin brother, Steven, would talk with Kristen. (This communication was done by phone only, they did not meet face to face.)  After one year, Steven sent a gift to Kristen… it was a Bible. She thought that it was okay to take it home as Muslims consider it to be one of the five Holy Books. She showed her family the Bible and placed it next to the Koran.  One of Kristen brothers, who knows the Koran by heart, was furious. He scolded her; she was upset by his reaction she took the Bible down and hid it.

Kristen liked reading the Bible and in time she spent more time reading the Bible than the Koran, but she showed her family that she was still reading the Koran. She also would share small things from the Bible with her family but they would not accept its truth. Kristen’s family noticed that her behavior had changed and they found out about her communication with Steven, this did not make her family happy.

 Kristen decided to read the entire Koran with a detailed translation to find something to share with her family. In doing this she found many things about Jesus in the Koran to which Muslims do not pay attention. She gathered books about the Prophet Jesus. She found that in the Koran Jesus is called the Spirit of Allah. When she compared the Prophet Jesus with the Prophet Muhammad she found that Jesus was more spiritual. Slowly over time Kristen stopped reading the Koran and praying namaz, instead she would pray to Jesus! Inside of her was great fear at the consequences of what she was doing, there was a battle going on inside. So she prayed and ask God to show her the right path.

 At this time her mother was very angry with her and she was removed from her education at the hostel. Kristen continued speaking with Steven on the phone and shared with him what was happening at her home. He encouraged her with verses from the Bible. The first time her mother got angry with her, Kristen prayed in the Name of Jesus as Steven had taught her and a half an hour later she noticed that her mother was no longer angry. Her faith was encouraged, she loved her mother much and was happy at this result.

The communication between Steven and Kristen grew into more and they felt it would be good for them to marry. Naomi had learned that Kristen had accepted Jesus and was praying in His name! Naomi wanted them to go to Kristen’s parents and ask for her hand in marriage. When she told her mother she flew into a rage and forbid Kristen to see Steven and his family again.  Her family became very strict with her, she was monitored all the time and accompanied wherever she went.  However, she had decided she wanted to marry Steven.

When Naomi heard that Kristen’s family had refused to allow her to marry, she understanding what a shame it was for the family. She took Steven’s phone from him so he could no longer communicate.  However, when she realized that Steven and Kristen were truly in love, she returned the phone to him. Though it was difficult Steven continued to reach out to Kristen and encourage her with Scripture.

After knowing Steven for two years she went to his house for the first time; it was Resurrection Sunday. She was greeted with great love, and she felt at home. Although she had not seen Steven before, this she was happy and she wanted to marry him.  Steven continued to teach her about the Word of God. Kristen was fully committed, she now knew the Truth and the Truth had sent her free!

Steven’s family talked about the marriage, but Steven’s father was not happy about the union as he knew it would mean trouble and even death for the family. Steven and Kristen were very upset about this and decided to pray, fast, and seek God’s will. Steven’s older brother and father asked if she was prepared to leave her family. She responded that the Lord would give her strength. Steven and his family decided on a date when Kristen would leave her home.

Kristen made sure she had all her documents and left a note for her family.  In it, she told them she had come to know the Truth and had accepted Jesus Christ. Kristen met Steven and Naomi and they went straight to court where they were married under Muslim law.  When she didn’t return home that night, Kristen’s mother called her. Kristen told her mother that she had left a letter for the family and that she was fine.  Her family kept calling but she did not answer. A few days later they had a church wedding.

Kristen’s family did not leave things alone.  They registered a case of kidnapping against Naomi, Steven, and Lorna as well as a case of adultery against Steven. Steven’s father advised that Kristen should file a petition to say that she had left her family and married of her own free will.  However, Naomi thought this would incite Kristen’s family. Her family sent Police to Naomi’s house to find out were Steven and Kristen were hiding. Naomi would not give them any information and she went to jail for two nights. Kristen phoned her family and asked them why they had Naomi arrested, she was told that they did not care about Naomi, but she must return home. When Naomi was released from jail she went straight to check on Kristen.

Naomi never angry or uttered a bad word against the actions of Kristen’s family. Kristen testified that in all the years since her marriage to Steven, his family has never spoken one bad thing against her family. She has been completely accepted by the family.

“I am far from my home and far from my family. But I don’t feel I’m among strangers. ”

Kristen and her husband along with other family members have been forced to flee for safety, by circumstance they have had to literally sell everything pack a bag and leave the country. They now see God’s wisdom in the situation because they have been freed from all the things that tie them to this world, and can now serve the Kingdom of God as pilgrims and sojourners in a strange land. Their circumstances have placed them in a unique opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God and this is something they are very excited about!

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16

 

Sojourning in Africa,

Charlton

A Life Redeemed—Jackson’s Story Part 2

I have already written a brief biographical sketch of Jackson’s life from the mission’s perspective. However, there is an amazing story behind the story. This story is an incredible action suspense thriller.

To start, Jackson comes from an extremely wealthy family. His father had a lot of property and multiple cars (which are only owned by the super rich here in Kenya). Jackson was a driver and was well off himself. He was married with multiple children, but lived as a swinging single, his driving work putting him often away from home. He was happy-go-lucky and thought things were just fine the way they were. Well that all changed when his father died.

When his father died his uncles were determined to seize the opportunity to steal the inheritance from nephews. They immediately killed Jackson’s two older brothers and used witchcraft to render his younger brother insane. After they sold four of the five parcels of land formerly owned by Jackson’s father, Jackson took them to court. They threatened to kill him as well and he responded in extreme violence to terrorize them in return. They then used witchcraft to kill him causing a serious car accident which killed his passenger and left him hospitalized for over three years. The uncles then visited him in the hospital and organized for the doctors to kill him. Through a nurse’s intervention he was warned not to eat or drink anything or allow medicine from anyone at the hospital because doctors were paid to kill him and they accepted the payment. She gave him some of her personal money and he snuck out of the hospital with his serious leg wound (we earlier reported we suspected it was from a spider bite—apparently it started from a car accident wound) to a nearby city Eldoret. From Eldoret, he called his bed mate (people commonly share beds in Kenyan government hospitals) and his bed mate’s son answered and informed Jackson that his bed mate was killed. The nurse explained to Jackson that the doctors had accidentally killed the wrong man assuming it was him.

After some time, being totally abandoned and hopeless, he decided to visit two of his uncles in West Pokot. They rejected him and left him outside the gate. He decided to drink agricultural chemicals to end his life right outside their gate. He woke up in the morning with a bad stomach ache, but alive. His uncles chased him away and he went to a local pastor for assistance. That pastor gave him a little money and sent him to a safer place. He ended up in our village.

Here in our village he took the little money the pastor gave him and found a place to sleep for the night. When airing out his wound it wreaked terribly and neighbors let themselves in to give him soap to wash. They saw the wound and showed him compassion. They assisted him with a little food, a blanket and helped him find more permanent housing. He hopped with his walking stick to a nearby pharmacy and asked for boxes to sleep on and they assisted him. Later he sought the local government office for assistance and they gave him a little money immediately and a daily allotment to sustain him and get medicine for his wound. These many miraculous interventions were showing him that there truly was a God watching over his life.

With the money he was given he went to the pharmacy and there met Charlton and Silas. That was the beginning of our involvement. We raised funding and organized to amputate his leg. These were amazing impossible miracles to Jackson.

The next miracle went like this. He was hobbling on his one leg with his walking stick and his sandle broke. While sitting in his room he noticed a bicycle wheel spoke in the rafters. He knew that was what was used for making needles to repair shoes so he gave it a try. He successfully repaired his sandal. His neighbors noticed him repairing his sandal and asked if he could fix their broken shoes. By the end of the day he had fixed many pairs making a good day’s wage of under $2. Now as a driver he was making a huge wage of over $20 but it helped him little. Now this $2 seemed a fortune and assisted him immensely. Through these incredible circumstances God had given him his future business.

After KDM assisted him with building a new shop in a prominent location, government workers began disturbing him and trying to shut him down. Silas and Jackson visited the senior government official’s office and was welcomed by a man with one leg. The man asked him what his need was and Jackson informed him that local government officials were disturbing his business. This man is a big man in government…one phone call and Jackson is now permanently free to operate his business undisturbed.

We have already discussed the miracles of him being reunited with his family. Bit the story was incomplete. The last missing piece of the puzzle is this. Today two disciples taught Jackson’s wife the Gospel of the Kingdom. He has surrendered and has accepted to repent and be baptized on Sunday. Wow! What an awesome God we serve!

A Life Redeemed–Jackson’s Story

When we first found Jackson, he was in rough shape. His leg was literally eaten away to the bone. There was no salvaging his leg; he required an amputation to survive. What began as a pimple eventually resulted in the total destruction of his leg. Retrospect suggests a spider bite, but we can only guess.

 

Jackson -- a depressed man

Jackson — a depressed man

Bad leg

Bad leg

His spiritual life was not much better. He was not a good man before we met him. He was married with children, but had been unfaithful to his wife. When these troubles befell him she left him and he lost the children as well. Since he had never paid dowry, his father-in-law gave his wife to another man. He was now going through these struggles alone.

Well one day he visited the KDM clinic and his life was about to change. His first challenge was simply surviving his ailment. We took him to a regional hospital and inquired as to the amputation procedure. They agreed to take on the task but at a cost of nearly $1,000. Praise the Lord you faithful contributors allowed for a very successful surgery. But this did not solve his greater need: to be reconciled with God.

 

Happy man with one leg

Happy man with one leg

Jackson began visiting one of the KDM home fellowships and was immediately taught. He completely surrendered to the Kingdom, repented, and was immediately baptized. His transformation was incredible.

 

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one-legged baptism

Baptism

Baptism

Then the team worked to get his life back in order. The disciples through your support helped him start a shoe repair business. It was immediately successful and he now sustains himself comfortably. But his life still had a gaping hole: he wanted his children back.

 

New shoe repair shop

New shoe repair shop

Having become convinced that remarriage was not an option, he wanted to reconcile with his wife. But that did not seem likely under the current circumstances. But at the very least he wanted his children back who were now staying with his in-laws. The disciples coordinated a distant trip to see Jackson’s prayers answered.

 

When they arrived he found both his wife and children present. He proposed to get his children back. And, to his surprise, he was offered his wife as well! His father-in-law explained himself. Since he was an unfaithful husband and had never paid dowry, he felt compelled to take his firstborn daughter back. With his condition appearing terminal, his hopes for dowry payment and a good life with his daughter were untenable. But now that he was a changed man, the father-in-law expressed his joy that the illness had struck and humbled him into submission to God. That now with one leg he will be home and care for his wife and children the way he should. He was happy to reunite them.

 

Well this is all great news, but the going rate for dowry is twelve cows, an impossible feat for a disabled cobbler. But God had something else in mind! Local tradition is that if a man fails to collect dowry for the first daughter, the suitors for subsequent daughters do not have to pay dowry. Therefore, this man held many agreements but no cows for his many daughters. He really really needed to close the deal on this girl to open the floodgates. His offer, 20,000 KSH ($250)! Jackson could have his wife and children back for merely $250. Well, not yet certain where this money would come from, the muzungu (white) disciples decided to pay the bill while the offer stood and everyone signed and witnessed the agreement. Done! Jackson has his entire life back…completely restored. And even more…now he is a Kingdom saint reconciled with his Maker! Glory to God!

Happy family (one child not pictured)

Happy family (one child not pictured)

A MONTH IN REVIEW: FEBRUARY

We are thankful everyday that the Lord lets us continue working in the mission field of Kenya. Praise and glory to the King of Kings!

This past month certainly started with a BANG! We experienced our second emergency snake bite case. A sixteen month-old was rushed to our compound one evening because she was bitten by a snake. She had a fang mark on her leg that was starting to swell, and she was drifting in and out of consciousness. After assessing the patient, Tim, Charlton, and Wanda jumped in the van and rushed the child and her family to a hospital in Eldoret, about two hours away. We are happy to report that she is doing well, and returned home several days later.

Not long after the little girl was brought to us, a two month-old little boy was brought to us as well. His name was Primus, and he was malnourished. We (the Sweazys) had the  beautiful opportunity to take him in and nurse him back to health. Through the generous donations of the body of Christ we were able buy him ample formula, take him to the doctor, and buy him clothes, blankets, and other needed supplies. He is now back home with his grandmother who has been his primary caregiver since birth. She has been trained on how to feed him, but will need further training. Please keep grandma, and baby in your prayers.

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During this two week period of caring for Primus, we had an intense four day Swahili language class scheduled as well. Our brother Glenn came up for the week, as well as our language teacher Jim. Jim has been living in Kenya for 22 years, and is fluent in several local languages. Charlton actually met Jim in Kisumu through mutual brothers and sisters in Christ. He arranged for Jim to make a trip to see us, and the timing could not have been more perfect. The Nafziger family had just arrived, and were able to get a jump start on the language!

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Charlton also made a trip to Uganda with Nashon to assist a brother named Joseph, who is doing work with a group of physically handicapped people. They made several repairs to the building in which everyone lives and works. They also replaced and repaired equipment that they use to make a living. Later on in the month Joseph came to stay with us for a weekend to further his discipleship. He also had to opportunity to see how we do home fellowship and communion.

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Literally, the day that Joseph left to return to Uganda, Tim and Charlton drove down to Kisumu to visit one of our home fellowships. They both did some teachings and spent some good time with the people.

Unfortunately, this month has had some challenging times as well. Our neighbor’s relative died at a very young age, which brought much sadness to the village. Marc, Cindy, and Tim were able to attend the funeral, and it opened up a door for Marc to teach about the Kingdom.

Marc has also been dealing with some church discipline issues in Saboti and Naitiri. We are happy to report that the Naitiri church has completely confessed and repented. We have also had major breakthroughs in the Saboti church. God is doing amazing things!

Thank you for the continued prayers and support. We are excited to see what God is going to do next.

A GREAT START TO 2015

“He, therefore, is the devout man who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God; who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life parts of piety, by doing everything in the Name of God and under such rules as are conformable to His glory.” -William Law

We strive daily to work for the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Doing everything in the Name of Jesus, desperately trying to conform to His image. Glory to God in the Highest. What an honor and privilege it is, to be the ambassadors of Christ.
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This new year has certainly started out with a bang. Since the beginning of the year, ten people have surrendered, repented, and have been baptized! Six out of those ten people live in Saboti, where a new home fellowship has been established. Last week alone, this brand new home fellowship had 23 people in attendance, with several people who wanted to know more about the Kingdom of God, and are receiving further teachings. The home fellowship in Bidii baptized three people, and our last baptism was a newly converted Imam (http://kingdomdriven.org/every-tongue-will-confess) who we are now working on relocating.

After people are baptized, they are strongly encouraged to walk closely with the brethren. One-on-one discipleship is key, but we also have various mid-week meetings: the mama’s meeting, youth meeting, and wazee (Wa-zay) meeting. Let’s start with the wazee meeting. You may be asking yourself, what is a wazee!? Basically, a wazee is just an elderly man. But around here, age is relative; once you hit your forties you can be a part of the wazees. The wazee meeting is like a very interactive home fellowship. They come together to pray, sing, and encourage one another. Currently, the wazees have been keeping busy with various livestock ministries. With the money received from an outside charity, cows, chickens, and a pig have been purchased. The livestock have been a tool in teaching the wazee about kingdom finances, through what we would call a “merry-go-round.” Basically, its a way of everyone chipping in some money so when there is a need or issue with one of the animals, the funds are there to lend a helping hand to anyone that may need it.

On average the youth meeting has about 15-20 people, ranging in age from 15 years old to about 35 years old. These guys are hard workers, and a number of them are employed by KDM. Recently they have been working on building the KDM discipleship housing. One of our youth named Sam, his wife Sarah, and their three month old son just moved into this building this past week. Sam just started translating books for us, and he is also a gifted teacher. Another project the youth are working on is a fish pond. They are hoping to use the fish pond to generate some income to not only assist one another, but the needy.

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Last but not least, the mamas in our fellowship have been growing not just in numbers, but in spiritual maturity. We are hoping to get another mamas meeting started in Maroki, where another one of our home fellowships is located, in the near future.

Not only have we been teaching and discipling people locally, but we recently had a Women’s Conference where 52 mamas came together from various home fellowships and were taught about biblical womanhood. Also, a group of four men from Nabiswa, Kiungani, Toll Station, and Saboti are being trained as field evangelists.

In other news, we have some updates on the various Great Commandment work that is going on. The jigger clinic has been a huge success. To date we have treated roughly 700 people, and handed out over 500 pairs of shoes to people who have desperately needed them. This past month we have really been trying to get these shoes moving, sometimes going out several times per week. We’ve also been distributing SAW (Support A Widow) parcels. These parcels are a one-time gift that contain food and household supplies, as well as a little money. This is a CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) program that is administered through some of our dear brothers and sisters in Kisumu. This year we have already distributed about 40 parcels. Here is a short testimony from one of the recent recipients:

“I had been without food, caring for a few of my grandchildren. I woke up one morning, not having any idea how we would feed ourselves. I prayed to God, and that same day you came with the SAW parcel. I was so happy, and I continuously thank God for this help.”
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Some of you may be familiar with the story of our local brother named Victor. He has received various cancer treatments, but we are sad to report that treatment has not helped his condition. He is a very sick man, and only God knows how much time he has left. For quite some time, Victor has been wanting to get his driver’s license. Because of his cancer, he is limited on job options. So, we have put him through driving school, and he has joyously received his driver’s license. But, just because someone goes through driving school, does not mean that they know how to drive. So, we will be giving him one-on-one driving lessons starting this weekend. Please remember to keep Victor in your prayers.
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In January, our fellowship also hosted a marriage ceremony. A disciple named Patrice got married to Joan. Patrice had been previously baptized but was re-baptized into the Kingdom along with Joan about a month before their wedding. Thanks to everyone who financially supported Patrice and Joan in making this joyous day happen!

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We are very happy to announce that Tim and Rebekah Nafziger and their three (plus one on the way) children have finally joined us here on the ground in Kenya. Karibu!

Looking ahead, we have some great missions planned for February. Next week we will be hosting a week-long Swahili language class.  A man who has lived in Kenya for 30 years has made it his mission to help missionaries learn the local language. Glenn Roseberry will also be joining us from Tanzania for this event.

Charlton and Nashon (a local disciple) will be making a trip to Uganda to do some follow-up discipleship, as well as following up with a Christian disabled group, who they have taught the Gospel of the Kingdom to. They plan on assisting with equipment repair, such as paraplegic cycles and sewing machines. They will also be working on the building that they meet in, since it is falling apart around them.

I will close by sharing some photos of a recent Carrier/Sweazy Family Day trip to Mount Elgon. Thank you for all the love and support. Enjoy!

 

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Every Tongue Will Confess

This week, we’ve had the honor to be a part of a pretty amazing story.

But this amazing story did not begin this week, it began over a year ago in a mosque…

 Marc had the opportunity to teach an Imam (an Islamic leader) and his family about the kingdom of God. During this teaching he prayed for the Imam’s daughter, who was seriously sick with a long term illness. Unknown to Marc, she was miraculously healed in the name of Jesus! Amen!

Now fast forward a year. Through an astounding set of circumstances the Imam was able to reconnect with Marc, through Charlton. They set up a meeting at a local disciples home. At this meeting, the Imam was recounting the events of his daughters healing. He admitted that he felt God’s presents that day, and he even later borrowed a bible to look into what Marc had taught them at the mosque. It was all true. The only problem was, he did not know how to get back in touch with Marc.

Praise the Lord, because after this meeting the Imam surrendered, repented, and then Marc and Charlton took him down to the river to be baptized.

 

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“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phillipians 2:9-11

Women’s Conference

 

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This past weekend KDMK had our very first women conference! It was a wonderful event. We had 52 women in attendance, from near and far. Every lady who was a baptized member in one of our home fellowships was invited. But in true Kenya fashion, we had a few random visitors show up as well. 🙂

Marc actually came up with the idea for this event, and organized the entire thing. One of his objectives for wanting to get all of the women together, was just that. It was so encouraging and uplifting knowing that other women from around the country are on this kingdom journey with us. Being able to share together, sing together, eat together, laugh together, and simply look into each others eyes brought a beautiful unity between all of us. The only negative that I think we all experienced, was not being able to communicate as freely as we all would have liked due to the language barrier that we still experience. However, we have a very intelligent local sister in Christ that speaks excellent English, named Linda. She translated the entire conference. We definitely needed her help because Wanda, Cindy, and I (Natasha) did all the teachings for the day. The reason that the three of us did the teachings for the conference was simply because we all live in the same compound. We were able to collaborate and organize what we were going to share in a short amount of time. And Cindy made a great point to encourage all the ladies to continue sharing, and teaching one another.

So, after a worship song, prayer, and short introductions I was the first one to share. My main focus was seeking the favor of God. I really tried to encourage the youth, that they are not to young to serve God in big ways. (1 Timothy 4:12) I find Mary’s life to be a perfect example of that. Out of all the woman in the world, God chose this young Jewish women to be mother of His only son. She was the “favored one.” (Luke Chapter 1) So I used scripture to shed some light on her character as well giving a detailed breakdown on the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25) Those characteristics are suppose to define us as followers of Christ.

Next, Cindy gave a detailed teaching on biblical womanhood. Sharing scriptures on how to become the wife and mother that God calls us to be. She started in Genesis and worked her way through the New Testament, really focusing on God’s order of headship and submission. One point that I really appreciated that she made was pointing out that older women are instructed by scripture to teach younger women the practical aspects of running a household; on how to love our husbands and raise godly children. These teachings are not something that women in this area are used to hearing. So it gave many mama’s plenty of things to think about, and a great opportunity for self evaluation.

Wanda closed the conference by weaving portions of her testimony in conjunctions with 1 Corinithians 6:18-7:40. She wanted to share the areas in which she fell short of the proper roles in marriage. Her transparency, and honesty was really refreshing, and I think many women could relate with what she had to say. She ended with sharing the joy she has experienced by being able to serve the kingdom of God as a single person. Now she is able to be totally devoted to our King without any distractions.

The three of us are at three different places in life. We have three different experience levels, and three different backgrounds. But God intertwined us together beautifully to share the message that He wanted His daughters to hear.

 

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“I shined the light, and the man fell down”

david and violetThis is David, along with his wife, Violet, and four of their six children. David is a pretty big guy. Our two oldest boys were testing his strength this morning, and they found it amusing that he could pick up 13 year-old Jonah with one arm and hold him in a seated position on his bicep.

I’m not sure how long David has been a part of our fellowship…maybe six months? He and Isaiah somehow became fast friends when Isaiah was overseeing a bunch of guys (including David) as they dug a local fish pond. In fact, the effort to communicate with David (who speaks very little English) was what made Isaiah functionally fluent in Swahili.

David had been living somewhat far away when he responded to the message of the Kingdom and was baptized. That, combined with the fact that he struggles with reading (as far as we know), made for a slow process of discipleship. At one point, the church elders had to address a significant issue with him, but he showed sincere repentance and one of the next steps was a willing move to a location closer to the fellowship so that he could grow stronger spiritually. He lived right across the path from us for a while, was forced to move, and then found another place across the main road. There are several brothers who live near each other there, so it’s a great way for them all to mutually encourage one another. The accountability has also been good for David.

One thing we’ve all noticed about David is that he’s a really good Dad. His children obviously love and respect him and he’s cared for them well as his wife has recently struggled with illness. However, Isaiah (who spends a lot of time at David’s house) did report that David has a bit of a temper when the children misbehave.

Sunday at our communion meal, a large group of about 20 adults ate together and then were encouraged by our brother Sam to examine ourselves in preparation for sharing in the body and blood of Christ. This is always a quiet and introspective time and although public confessions are encouraged, they are somewhat rare. Such a thing is just not a part of African culture. This week, however, was an exception. Many stood to confess and share their struggles and ask for prayer. David was one of them–the first time he’s publicly shared during our fellowship meal.

The night before, he had been sleeping at his home farm some distance away. He still has a house there, which has a sleeping mat and a few other things in it because he stays there when it’s time to plant or harvest beans or maize. Although a vacant house is usually an invitation for robbery or vandalism, David’s brothers live close by so there have thus far been no problems. However, on this particular Saturday night as David was sleeping, he reported that he was awakened by some unusual noises outside the house. He went out with his spotlight and found nothing, so returned to bed.

Some time later, he was abruptly awakened by some more noises. Though nothing obvious, he knew it meant trouble. He said that he got out of bed and stood by the window. (His house is a mud-and-stick construction with one window and one door, which is typical in our area.) Soon, water began to seep in around the window and he guessed that there were three men outside trying to break through the wall and enter the house. He simply waited quietly in the dark with a fimbo (a straight club with a large round ball on one end, which can easily finish someone) and a flashlight in his hands.

Eventually, one of the men worked his way in, leaving his two friends outside. David reported that he struggled internally; his strong reaction was to beat the man and cause the robbers to leave. (You must understand that here, robbers don’t just come to steal and then quietly leave. In the face of any opposition, they typically have and use machetes or knives to defend themselves. It’s kill-or-be-killed, since any robbers caught in the act are typically subject to vigilante justice, often having petrol poured on them and a match lit.)

However, David said, he had “another voice” telling him not to follow his natural reaction. Instead, he quickly positioned himself in front of the broken-through wall and shined his spotlight in the face of the intruder. In his own words, he “shined his light, and the man fell down!” He told the man, “You will not get out of here!” and tied his hands together. He then called his brothers, and the men all stood watch until morning, when it was determined that the man was a neighbor and should be freed without repercussions. His friends had already fled.

I wondered, if David had not sinned against the man, why was he standing to confess? And then he admitted that he felt that his feelings of anger were sin and he was asking for forgiveness and prayer.

After the Communion meal, we talked as a family. Marc wondered aloud if, when David said, “he shined his light and the man fell down!,” that was an African way of confessing that he had turned on his flashlight and then beamed the guy in the head with the club. (This is not a big stretch if you understand the differences between our Western-style of communication and their Eastern style.) So he sent Isaiah to David’s house to “confirm.” As it turned out, David did, indeed, refrain from doing harm to the man, choosing instead to “love his enemies” and “not resist an evildoer,” as Jesus had commanded. The intruder, expecting to break through the wall into an empty house, was probably just greatly surprised to find that he was not alone. Given David’s size, I can understand his reaction.

With the struggles we sometimes face in the lengthy and difficult process of discipleship, David’s testimony of this weekend stands as a great encouragement not only to us, but to our entire fellowship. It demonstrates the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of Jesus’ teachings and God’s upside-down Kingdom, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us walk in that truth, even when our flesh would prompt us to do otherwise. Join me in praising God and in praying for David and others in our fellowship here who are striving to enter the narrow gate and follow the path that leads to eternal life.

Meet Silas…

We (the Carriers) met Silas pretty much on day one when we moved to the village here in Kenya. He owns a shop just across the street from our house, where he lives and works with his wife, daughter, and newborn baby son.

Though we didn’t know it from the moment we met, Silas was eventually identified as that “man of peace” that would be instrumental in expanding the Kingdom of God in our community.

Recently, we helped Silas to purchase a piki piki (motorbike), in hopes that a fledgling business as a boda boda (driver) would help provide more comfortably for their family so that Silas would be more free to invest his time “on the mission.” Most recently, he coordinated many of the brothers (under the direction of Charlton Sweazy) to construct a home for a widow in our fellowship. He also regularly shares the Gospel of the Kingdom with visitors to his little shop, runs patients to the local clinic under Wanda’s direction, and visits satellite fellowships that are still in need of teaching and discipleship. If there’s anything to be done, not only do we trust Silas to do it, but he is always willing.

If Silas has a fault, it’s his memory. Rumor has it he suffered a head injury as a youth and was never the same (though we’ve never confirmed that to be true). In any case, he often confuses the English words “remember” and “forget” and he’s always “remembering” something–which is really “forgetting.” So when you call him to pick you up on his piki piki, he sometimes gets distracted and then “forgets to remember,” or “remembers to forget.” In other words, multiple phone calls by way of reminder are often necessary. And sometimes he shows up at the door and, after greeting and small talk, when asked if he needs something, he may stand there with a dazed look for several minutes before, with a shake of his head, he says, “Oh, yes!” and then proceeds with the reason for his visit.

We love Silas!

I (Cindy) had the privilege of riding on the piki recently behind Silas as I headed to a women’s meeting. I was reminded just why someone like Silas is such a gem. For starters, let me compare him with many other drivers at the boda boda “stage” in town (the place where you can hire a driver from a sea of motorbikes). Many of them are drunkards (not necessarily abstaining in order to pursue a living as a driver). Some are just plain rude and crude. Then there are those who lack not only a desire for safety but common sense as well. Couple that with dirt roads where potholes are the rule rather than the exception, impromptu speed bumps pop up unexpectedly, and pikis share the road with animals, pedestrians, bicycles, the occasional car, and other unsafe pikis often driving at high speeds, and a ride into town (or even a couple kilometers to a women’s meeting) can be downright scary.

I meditated on this as I rode peacefully on the back of Silas’s motorbike. Needless to say, Silas is as straight-laced as they come. He drives at a moderate speed and even slows down for speed bumps so I don’t fly up off the seat. I smiled when we came upon a little girl, maybe a year old, sitting in a little pothole in the dirt path we were driving on. I wondered what Silas was doing as he stopped and beeped his horn, since the house we were at wasn’t our final destination. Turns out he just wanted to get the attention of the girl’s mother, who was busy doing her wash in the courtyard. They had a short conversation, and then Silas said to me, “Yeah, many drivers they go too fast and they might not see her.” True enough!

I called him to come pick me up as I thought our meeting was wrapping up, since for him it was about a 15-minute ride and I didn’t really want to wait around. However, as it turns out, our closing prayer time went on longer than I thought it would and, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Silas pull up on the path outside before we finished. He ended up sitting there for about 10 minutes and I wondered what was going on when I saw him turn around and disappear down the path the same way he had come. To my amusement, when I exited the house I found him giving one of the neighborhood little tykes (about 2 years old, maybe) a spin on his piki, safely situated on the gas tank in front of him. Needless to say, the boy was smiling from ear to ear.

I apologized for making him wait and said,”Those Mamas prayed long today!” To which he simply laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s like that.” (That’s one of Silas’s favorite phrases, which he uses liberally and sometimes in a way totally unrelated to the conversation.)

To my surprise, one of the Mamas from the meeting begged a ride home, since it was on our way. Without missing a beat, I got squashed between her and Silas like a mzungu sandwich. Ordinarily, having a piki driver practically in my lap would make me uncomfortable, but knowing that it also made Silas uncomfortable actually made me feel better. I noticed that he scooted up on the gas tank as far as he possibly could to create more space for me. 😉

So now you’ve met Silas and gone with me a morning errand on the back of his piki. …“It’s like that.”

Annual Meeting –Year in review and future plans

We held our annual meeting for Kingdom Driven Ministries with the Board last night and wanted to share with you some of our discussions. It has certainly been an extraordinary year and we are looking forward to even more fruit as we continue to grow. We thank you all so very much for making it all possible through your financial and prayer support!

Here are some highlights from the past year on the ground in Africa:

  • Dozens of pastoral training missions having trained between 200 and  300 pastors and leaders in the Kingdom Gospel, Kingdom expansion (Evangelism), discipleship and house church. Luke 10-style community evangelism resulted in many baptisms and follow-up discipleship.
  • Hosted multiple short-term missions (visitors from US)
  • Trained and launched Glenn Roseberry to Tanzania. He is doing great–be sure to follow reports on his blog or Facebook.
  • Revised literature to reduce expenses
  • Issued 28 microloans (some individual, some group) in total 551,500 KSH for numerous small businesses. Average loan amount approximately 19,700 KSH or $240. Partial repayment of all but five loans. Just two loans paid in full.
  • Orphan care: several one-time gifts given. First “Forever Family” launched recently. This has been slow going because our program is based on placing orphans in the homes of Kingdom Christians. This first year has been focused on evangelism and discipleship to make those hosts.
  • Medical assistance: numerous emergency and routine medical expenses funded through the mission.
  • Academic training on an individual basis: English training, Horticulture, Computer Skills, farming techniques, and small business
  • Two board members attended a Farming God’s Way (www.farming-gods-way.org) seminar and the Carriers have launched a “case study” for the community using their small shamba.
  • Local book lending library established; many Kingdom-oriented books as well as practical resources have been lent out.
  • Local medicine cabinet and medical care facilitation has been implemented to meet a very real need in the community.

Plans for 2013-14

  • Continued multi-day pastoral training/evangelistic missions
  • Continued evangelism, discipleship, and home fellowships (planting and mentoring)
  • College-level training for pastors and ministry leaders (20-week course, 5 hours every Saturday. Launching June 1.)
  • Business/Small farming training seminar(s)
  • Family/marriage/parenting seminar(s)
  • More assistance for poor and needy: specifically medical expenses and empowerment gifts rather than just business loans
  • Microloan program evaluation; recommendation is to give gifts rather than loans where possible, also to focus on agricultural loans and loans to existing business (i.e., for expansion), which seem to be more successful. Also, possibly gifts of livestock where recipients can “re-gift” to others in need once livestock has reproduced.
  • Expansion of orphan care program expected as pool of candidates (Kingdom Christians willing to take in non-related children) grows.
  • Charlton, Natasha, and Wanda Sweazy moving to Kenya, 2014.They will be involved in orphan care and medical assistance programs.