Pauline (above) is a young widow who lost her husband to HIV. She was also diagnosed as HIV positive. For those who remember, on the last trip I sent out an update and prayer request for her. After her husband died, her mother-in-law attempted to run her off the husband’s land. Women’s land rights are an issue here in Kenya. Thankfully, the issue was resolved and the mother-in-law relented. The Lord defended this widow. Pauline has two children: Kevin who is 13 years old and in class 8 (junior high) and Bennet who 4 years old and is in middle class (pre-school). Both children are healthy and are doing well in school. Pauline grows crops on her small plot of land and sells vegetables in front of her home to make enough money to sustain her family. She also receives support in the form of food from EAZM and school fees for Kevin. When asked yesterday if she has any prayer requests to pass along to folks in the US, Pauline asked for prayer for peace and healing. We laid hands on her for healing for HIV and we are believing for a good report.
We are going to make it our aim on trips to begin to tell the story of each family that is receiving help from EAZM. I will post a spotlight for each family every month or so and we will continue to visit the families until we have told all their stories.
We visited several other families in addition to Pauline on Thursday. It was great for Elizabeth to see the plots of land that these families are working with. They have used the seeds from Esther to plant crops and the crops appear to be doing very well, especially with the extra rain we have received. The common need is going to be a consistent water source in dry season.
The wifi in all Machakos was out for the last few days, so this is my first opportunity to send an update. I am currently in Dubai, en route back to the US. Elizabeth should also be on her way back as of now.
Yesterday Onesmus, Esther, and I spent time talking and praying about the future for EAZM. Esther has some great ideas in mind for the grandmothers to start becoming more self-sufficient. She is going to do some more research into water storage tanks, chicken businesses, and the local market for bags and purses. I’ll share more as I hear back from her.
We are looking to return to Kenya sometime after the election on August 8. There has been a history of violence surrounding elections in Kenya so we will pray into the right time to go and, more importantly, pray for peace in this election. Thank you for joining us in prayer!
As I shared in the last post, this trip here has opened my eyes to how significant Onesmus’s call is to Kenya. Nearly every fellowship we visit is in a hidden away place that could not be found on a map. The people in these churches are dirt poor, most cannot even afford Bibles. In a nation where ministry is often big business these are the ones who would be forgotten; they have nothing to give. But Onesmus has been faithful to feed His lambs and he has raised up faithful men who follow the same model.
The other day I told Onesmus that someone in the US has committed to funding his preaching outreaches for next month. I don’t know if I have ever seen him so excited. He was like a kid on Christmas. “Now I will preach until Jesus returns!” he said. These faraway and hidden places have been crying out to Onesmus to come and preach the gospel and to encourage and disciple the young pastors there. But they so poor that they have no way to fund his trip or even offer him a place to sleep. So we thank God that He has made a way for O to continue in his call.
Today we visited a fellowship in the hills outside of Machakos. From the reactions, I don’t know that a white person has been there in recent memory. Onesmus said he did not need to check on this fellowship often because the pastor is strong. He was right. The people were strong in faith and there was no deliverance. I spoke on identity in Christ and the people received it with great joy.
Bo and Jo arrived safely in the US today. Tomorrow we will walk the hills with Esther in the morning. In the afternoon I have two meetings: one with the landlord and another with O’s lawyer. We have some legal work that needs to be done with our land and I’m looking at some new options for legal representation. Please pray for wisdom and God’s direction and protection in these matters.
Yesterday Bo, Onesmus and I drove for about 2.5 hours out to visit a fellowship in an area called Kitui. There is a man named Peter who we visited in January 2015. Since then the Lord has worked through him to start 4 more fellowships in the Kitui area. This was one of the newer ones. We were definitely out in the bush, so much so that when it started raining we began to wonder about getting out. The church building was built with sticks and mud and looked like a strong wind could blow it over. When we arrived the only ones waiting were a few children. But slowly other folks started arriving and we began meeting with a small group. Before we started teaching Onesmus felt led to begin praying for the people and thank God he did. The “leaders” were the first ones to fall and manifest demons. After everyone received prayer and the people were set free, we began to share. Bo shared on love from 1 Corinthians 13 and I spoke about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We prayed for people to be filled with the Holy Spirit and some of them received their prayer language for the first time, including a few of the children. A young woman was also healed of a stomach ailment through prayer.
The people were really gracious and hungry for the Lord. Peter, the pastor/leader of that area shared about how he often travels to that small fellowship and sleeps on the ground at night, praying and interceding for the folks in the area and asking God to send them. It was humbling to see his dedication and his shepherd’s heart. It was also eye-opening to see the need for Onesmus to travel to these fellowships. Many of these pastors are great shepherds and teachers but they do not have the experience yet in deliverance or the same authority as Onesmus. It’s hard to teach demonized people (trust me, I’ve tried) and they need his gift to come and set people free and then train up the leaders to do the same. Onesmus now has a strong team in Machakos that does healing, deliverance, counseling, preaching etc without relying on him to be there. But these fellowships are much younger and are full of new believers, many of whom still cary a lot of demonic baggage.
We visited another fellowship today and saw much of the same need. These pastors are doing the work of a shepherd and an evangelist, but they need help. Most of the people in the fellowship today could not afford Bibles, which is also essential to growth. We must bring all these needs to the Lord and ask Him to make a way. The harvest is truly plentiful here in Kenya.
Tomorrow we will go visit the land and also meet with the women who have made bags. And on Tuesday Bo and Joanne will be flying home. I have violated the rule of self-sufficiency and sustainability and have become totally reliant on Elizabeth for good pictures, so I have nothing from the bush churches. But here are a few more great ones of the grandmothers and the kids.
Thank God for Joanne Young. More than anyone else, Joanne has built relationship and trust with our friends here in Kenya. Because of this trust, our friends have started to open up to her and share their stories. A few days ago, O and E’s 14 yr old daughter, Irene, happened to run into Bo coming back from the store. She offered to help carry groceries and walked with him back to the hotel. Joanne and Bo treated her to lunch and spent the afternoon talking with her.
Joanne brought book with her that tells the story of a woman who came out of trauma, prostitution and addiction. After hearing about the book, Irene began to share about her friend at school. This young girl’s father murdered her mother and then turned on her. He raped her and then cut and beat her face, leaving her face almost disfigured because of the scaring. Most of the kids at Irene’s school avoid the girl and are mean to her. But Irene went out of her way to befriend the her. There is another girl who actually suffers from leprosy. Similarly, all the other children avoid her and make fun of Irene for going near her. But she is Irene’s friend. Irene is pretty, smart, a dancer, and popular, but she has a much greater depth than your average 14 year old. When we talk about investing in and believing in the future of Kenya, I am seeing Onesmus and Esther’s kids as prime examples of the potential in the children here. Not only are they scoring at the top of their class in school, but they have a heart and a love for the broken. We can see that they love the 7 children who O and E have taken in to their home as well. Mark, their youngest son, considers them to be his brother and sisters. And thank God, because these 7 children are in such need of love and true family.
Isabel, whose focus is caring for the 7 kids, also began to open up to Joanne about the trauma of the children. She said that Mercy, who is about 5 years old, will rarely speak at all. Her teachers say that she is driven and extremely bright, but her social skills are lacking and she does like to interact with the other kids. Isabel said that she does not usually ask the kids about their past because if she does, they begin to cry. So we still do not really know the stories of the 4 kids who were taken off the streets. We must pray for the Lord to heal the trauma of these little ones and for wisdom in that process.
While Joanne spent time with Isabel getting the inside scoop, we had our second meeting with the grandmothers yesterday. It appears that their greatest need for becoming more self-sufficient is a more consistent water source. There are water tanks, which cost around $200, that can store rainwater for use during the dry season. If they had water, they could grow more food and a greater variety of food. This was their idea/solution to the problem. So we will look more in to this option. We also asked for women to share any other business ideas they may have. There were a few who have some promising ideas, including a woman who has already started a small chicken business. Right now, we are looking for the women who stand out and show the potential and the motivation to become a success story. Our meeting also revealed a lot of fear in the women to take risk and lose the little security they possess. We need a few heroes who can inspire and motivate others to step out. We plan to follow up with these potential heroes next week.
Today we visited Sha’s school and spent the evening with Sha. Tomorrow Bo, Onesmus and I will go visit a fellowship in Kitui while Esther, Elizabeth, and Joanne go visit the land. Thanks for praying!
On Sunday, we visited the fellowship here in Machakos for the first time in a year. The Lord used our time to reveal something important. Bo spoke on the story of Gideon and reminded the people that while Gideon was from the weakest clan and was the least in his own family, God called him a mighty man of valor and used him powerfully. I followed Bo and I started by asking the people a simple question: are you a sinner or are you righteous (a saint). The answer was pretty revealing to me. One of the leaders could not answer and the other one wasn’t confident either but decided to say he was a sinner. I spoke only briefly and shared from 2 Cor 5:17 and Ephesians 1:1, encouraging the people to begin to believe they are who God says they are as new creations in Christ.
Through this experience, I felt like I began to see deeper into the spiritual connections to the physical poverty. If a person believes he is a worthless sinner, always trying to work off his transgressions and avoid further mistakes, he will not have the confidence and endurance to take chances to be successful in work and business. Creativity is also shut down by shame and guilt. A spiritual mindset of “just trying to barely make it to heaven” seems to lend itself to “just trying to get by” in life. I feel the Lord is calling us to match our efforts in natural empowerment with a message of identity and empowerment in Christ.
On the practical side, it seems like the Lord may have made a connection for us to give us the legal help we need to prepare the land for a well, a children’s home, and everything else the Lord would want to do. There are several organizations that I think would want to help and partner with us, so this step will be important. Please pray for wisdom and direction in this process
Elizabeth and Joanne had a great time playing with the kids on Sunday and yesterday and Elizabeth took some great photos of the children. They are so happy and healthy; it makes all of the other trouble worth it.
Tomorrow we will be meeting with Onesmus to discuss plans, finances, etc for the future. We may also go and visit a fellowship in the afternoon. Thanks for your prayers!