Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Monday Updates - 13th February 2017

Last Sunday I was invited  to speak in what was dubbed ‘pre-valentine service’ at St. Faith Church [yes, St. Faith]. A largish Anglican church in the middle of Rongai township. At first I really struggled with what to say to Christians, who were gathered for spiritual feeding, about Valentines – a rather awkward feast for a lot of people.  I knew from the vicar’s brief that they wanted his people to hear about love for each other and for God but just exactly how to frame that was the problem.  The ‘go to’ method is to simply begin with definition of terms, trace their classical or antiquity roots and then move towards modern (or postmodern) interpretations and applications. But you can’t do that in a sermon, neither can you use those categories of thought or even the words if you are aiming to be helpful.   After all, when we arrived I noticed the bulletin had quite a bit of background on the origins of valentines so there would be no point repeating that and worse still my host’s source and mine were different (there are different theories as to the origins of Valentine and not one is definitive) so I had to steer clear of that. The last thing you want is to appear to contradict your host – even on an issue open to interpretation.

So I did what I think any of us in iServe would do – stick to the passage. During my preparation I had been torn between Song of Solomon and 1 Corinthians 13. I feared that SoS might be too risqué for the comfort of most people in the congregation (including our 3 boys) and after all I would not be the best person to teach on that aspect of love that the Greeks called Eros. I was also alive to the fact that there are many voices out there, not least late night radio shows that teach a lot on love and expression of the same. I was also hesitant about 1 Cor 13 as I feared it might be too cliché given that it is the ‘go to’ passage on the subject of love. If I went for Solomon, the congregation might receive it very well especially because the book is rarely preached on. If I went for Paul, I might not meet my host’s expectation of a guest preacher. I had to decide and get down to actual prep before it was too late. In the end, I settled for 1 Cor 13 – I had nothing new to say except the same old message of the cross. Probably not the most romantic picture, but the greatest demonstration of love.

But Paul is so meaty. Within those verses, he has managed to pack 15 attributes of love  and also dispelled the notion that gifts are of more value. I divided the passage into 3 sections as

1.       Introduction
2.       Section 1 : Love as a measure of spiritual maturity v1-3
3.       Section 2: The nature of agape love v4-7
4.       Section 3:  The supremacy of love above all virtues v8-13.
5.       Conclusion.

In the end I preached God’s love for us in Christ and his call for us to love our neighbours. What I had not fully appreciated however was that I needed to say the same in the Kiswahili service. By purely God’s grace we got through the second service but not without a few words in English thrown in to support a point or two. I found it helpful also to use an illustration in the second service and went for David’s kindness to Mephibosheth.  I really felt I needed to preach God’s grace and the cross and I hoped that the illustration brought the point home. Oh the pains of sermon preparation and delivery!

All is well at the office. We are now well settled into a routine and everyone seems to know their place. TransformD guys will take a break next week so they will go away for a week. TransformD is a residential programme so quite intensive. Once they are back, they will then do another five weeks of learning and then a month of mission experience in Samburu.

Last Saturday we had a great time with Alumni during their annual mbuzi. It was great to catch up with folk who served those many years ago together with their loved ones. We danced to our fill and then played a game of volleyball – which my side obviously won.  This week is bit quieter save for a staff meeting possibly on Thursday. We are however beginning to shift focus towards recruitment of September apprentices and second year options for you guys. Planning is also happening for the upcoming MTC.

A little reminder however is for enhanced efforts in PD. Friends, however big our ambitions for God and His kingdom are, we will never be able to realise them without resources and the way to raise those resources is PD. This is an important ‘home truth’ that we all in ministry need to hear – It won’t happen without money. Sorry to be blunt but I need you to know that under supported workers are ineffective workers. The vicious cycle of poor PD goes like this;  Bad/Poor attitude to PD -  Poor/weak PD – Low Stipend – Discouraged Gospel Worker – Few Prayer Letters – Poor/Weak PD – Negative Attitude to PD/Ministry as a whole.  The virtuous cycle however goes like; Positive Attitude to PD – Good effort/Hard work in PD – Encouraging Results in PD – Good Stipend – Happy/Enthusiastic/Encouraged worker – Frequent Prayer Letters – Even More PD – More Partners on Board – Happy/Positive Disposition to PD/Ministry in General.  If your PD is 40% and below of your target so far, then it is too low. Between 40 and 60% then it is average 60 to 80% is Good and beyond 80 commendable. Work towards exceeding of your target by the time you finish.

I wish you a great week ahead and pray for your well-being especially at such a time when our country which is fraught with many problems. May you know that the centre holds – The Lord reigns.



Monday, 13 February 2017

Monday Updates - 06 February 2017


After a bit of a break it is time to resume Monday updates. I think the last one went out at the end of November and then we met at the MTC and then it was Christmas and then it was January with all its demands. Before I knew it, it was February - more than two months before I sent out what is ideally a weekly briefing.

We are keeping well at the office. January was extremely busy for all staff and it is only now that we are catching our breath. As you may well know, we have two teams that joined us last month – The TransformD Discipleship Programme team of 13 ex candidates and a short term mission team of 8 girls from the UK, courtesy of  Crosslinks. Halfway house has been buzzing with activity ever since mid-January. Administratively, we had to secure extra accommodation, expand our support staff and enhance security. During the month, we also had two incidences of crime – in the first one, a night guard from our contracted security company made away with quite a few items from the kitchen and Berea Hall and in the second one, the house where we accommodated the visitors was broken into on a Sunday morning when the girls were away for church. Sad incidences which remind us of the world we live in.

January also saw us welcome and deploy 3 apprentices who are joining us for the calendar year 2017. Christopher Muraya and Josphine Makena are placed in the new Anglican diocese of Kisii, teaching in a school called Misambi Secondary School in Sondu, South Nyanza. Joseph Tsuma is placed in the office and is helping to support TransformD. These guys seem to have settled in well in their posts and we wish them well in their ministry apprenticeship for the coming months.

At the TCP site there have also been developments. We started off by receiving a massive donation of books for which we needed storage. We set up a temporary structure to keep them even as we await to grow our own library there once the project is complete.  That kept us busy for quite a while. Later on in January we began the works on a water tower as we awaited approvals from the county government to commence construction of the main structure. The water tower is progressing well as well as a little guard room at the gate. I reckon by the time you come for MTC, there will be some visible progress on the main structure. We continue to seek funds for this project and covet your prayers.

As the days roll on, we find ourselves navigating in unfamiliar waters. This comes with great joy and new anxieties as well. Though not entirely unexpected, the staff team does find there to be a lot more to do, lots of new relationships to grow and indeed shifting dynamics in the workplace. Through it all, we have been encouraged every day particularly in reading John. We began with the gospel, then the epistles and now we are working our way through Revelation. There was such a strong message on identity as God’s children, how we should live as such and our future hope. We desire to be that community of love and brotherhood guided by a strong historical witness of our Lord’s life, death and resurrection and a clear perspective of the eternity to come.

Last week I thoroughly enjoyed visiting our apprentices in Samburu – Okiki, Jessica and Pontive. Though the terrain is tough, these dear ones are so encouraged to keep serving and loving the local community. It was amazing to see how they have thrown themselves at the task – counting their lives as worth nothing for the sake of the gospel. I enjoyed every moment I had with them from riding the rough roads to sharing the top of a range rover for the night. I came back quite challenged and maybe more encouraged in the ministry than those I presumably went to care for.

I wish you a great week ahead and look forward to hearing how you are doing from time to time.