I apologize to those of you who have been checking this blog regularly while I have been in Kenya. For the last week we were conducting our class on the gospel of Mark. Every day we were at at Kua Pwanga, a growing village, outside of Malindi about 15 miles away, where we were teaching 12 pastors. So, all day we were teaching and fellowshiping. Then, in the evening there was some preparation for the next day of classes, to answer questions that the students had and to prepare the class material for the next day. Plus, I preached twice to the class, once on Monday and once on Friday, on Mark 1:1-15 on Monday and on Mark 6 on Friday. This also took some preparation because, even though I have copies along of messages I have preached on these texts I needed to change some illustrations to fit my audience. It's not an American congregation! So, I tried to think through illustrations from nature that would fit with their context, such as illustrations about hippos and mangoes. Then, over the weekend I preached on Sunday at the church to a congregation that was about 75% youth below age 18. This took a whole different preparation.
On Sunday I was preaching on a passage in Galatians 5 where the influence of the sinful nature is contrasted with the fruit of the Spirit. The last verse in the section from which I was preaching, says, “Let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). When I preached this passage in the United States I used the picture of a marching band staying in step with each other. Here, I wasn't sure they would know what a marching band is, so at the end of the message I picked up one of their drums and started beating it in rhythm. They seemed to get quite a kick out of this illustration, especially when I showed them what happens when you get out of rhythm with the Spirit, and I beat on the drum in random fashion while I walked like a drunken man.
Today, the FGP fellowship of churches is holding a large conference. The speaker is David Kiamu, from Reach Africa, a division of ReachGlobal, the missions arm of the Evangelical Free Church. David is from Liberia, and he travels throughout Africa encouraging the churches toward maturity. David is going to be speaking on church planting and church development. He has been with me at our lodging place over the weekend, and we have had a good chance to get to know one another and encourage each other. Sometime when he is in the United States we may have him come and preach at our church.
Here is what David has said about other parts of Africa, "Most of Sierra Leone is Muslim, and Liberia has five major unreached tribes. David, Church Planting Director for ReachAfrica, describes the spiritual plight of West Africa: "The rate at which whole people groups are turning to Islam and animism is alarming in West Africa… Extreme poverty at the grassroots level is providing opportunities for Islam, animism and Cults to lead people away from the truth. In Liberia alone, Islamic organizations and Cult groups are lending more material assistance to villages and towns than any Christian organization is doing. This is how most people groups are turning away from Christ."
We see some of this Islamic evangelistic aggressiveness here in Malindi, Kenya as well. On our way to the Kua Pwanga church where we are holding our conference we drive by a new mosque that is being erected right along the road side. What is sad is that the mosque has a sign about 50 yards from it that says that the property is going to be used to build a Christian church. How long has the sign been there? Did the Muslims buy the property from the Christians who couldn't afford to build? I don't know, but the Muslims are building and the Christians are not. That's what I see in this case.
If you want to reach more about Reach Africa go to the website....
I am preaching at the conference on John 15, the passage where Jesus says that He is the vine and we are the branches, and our need to “bear fruit that will last” (John 15:16). This is a part of what is on my heart for however many years that the Lord gives me on earth. Jesus says that “you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5). Really, nothing??? Jesus' point is that we can do many good things, but we can do nothing that lasts, if it is not His power and His work. We can teach Sunday School, start churches, minister to people, but it's His work that matters.
Tuesday I leave for home, about a thirty hour trip.