Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Out of Africa

Out of Africa

Yes, I’m Out of Africa and home in the U.S. I arrived Sunday, February 3, with great thankfulness and joy to see my family. God performed many miracles to make it happen.

By January 31, the circumstances surrounding me were becoming very serious, so I started the process of arranging for flights to go home as soon as possible. The first hurdle was getting from Nandi Hills to the airport in Eldoret. The roads had been closed with roadblocks for several days, so I contacted a friend at EPK, Eastern Produce Kenya which owns many of the tea estates. They had been arranging charter flights to fly their Kikuyu employees to Nairobi from a neighboring tea estate that had an airstrip. I asked this friend if there were any more flights scheduled in the next couple of days. He said there were none, but he could help me get to the Eldoret airport. Another EPK employee was going on February 2 to pick up his wife and I could ride with them in an EPK company car, a Ford Ranger, 5-passenger pickup.

I packed my carry-on-size piece of luggage with my laptop and a few other things I could squeeze in, and then filled a shopping-bag-sized tote bag with other things I needed. At 6:00 a.m., February 2, I left my house and everything in it. I took no baggage to check in. Henry went with me to Nandi Hills to the EPK offices that are behind locked gates with guards so he could drive my car back to the house. He has had six months of driving lessons and just recently learned to shift to 3rd gear (my RAV4 is manual with five gears), so the angels of God worked hard to get him back home and up the steep driveway.

We had to go through one manned roadblock at the turn into Nandi Hills. The people had torn down large signs and placed them across the road with a narrow place between them in the middle of the road where they had laid rocks. The three men on duty held roughly-made wooden paddles and searched the car. The roadblock was set up by individual residents of Nandi Hills to protect their town because two days before a car loaded with guns had arrived, but were stopped by the two remaining policemen. (There used to be thirty policemen in Nandi Hills town.) We passed inspection so they moved the rocks for us to pass through.

We were to meet at EPK at 6:45 a.m. However, it is Africa, so they showed up at 7:15, and then we left immediately for the Eldoret airport. There were countless roadblocks all the way, but none of them were manned, thank the Lord! The barriers were made of large stones lined up across the road, and/or tree trunks or stumps, a badly damaged truck, and a burned out upside-down car. There were several fire-blackened areas along the side of the road and many places where power lines and poles were down. Except for the millions of potholes, it was not the same road we were on only a few weeks earlier to stock up on food and supplies. A very sad sight it was.

We arrived at the Eldoret airport in a little less than an hour. I was able to buy a ticket on the next Jetlink plane for Nairobi, sat down in the waiting room for about 5 minutes, and then boarded the plane. Forty minutes later we landed in Nairobi. Two black angels helped me with my two bags as we walked outside from the domestic landing area to international departures. It was about 10:00 a.m. At midnight the 747 to Amsterdam took off. My heart was filled with thankful praise to Almighty God. After a change of planes I arrived safely in Atlanta at around 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 3—40 hours after leaving my house in Kenya and encountering no problems along the way. Our God is soooooooooooo good!!!

Thank you for your prayers! Please continue to pray for the people and country of Kenya. Countless thousands are suffering greatly without food, other necessities and homes. In the area I left the people were living in their houses by day, but sleeping in the tea fields for fear they’d be burned to death during the night. Fear has gripped the whole country because of the unprecedented evil and wickedness never before experienced by native Kenyans. Our enemy Satan knows his time is short before Jesus returns, so he’s not wasting any time gathering millions of lost souls with him to hell.

I must end on a positive note. Remember Mark Mogere, the young man who worked at the now burned-down Total filling station in Nandi Hills and who I led to the Lord a few months ago? He called a week ago to say he was safe in his family homeland (he’s a member of the Kisii tribe). He wanted to start a branch of my ministry there and asked me to go help him. I told him to read his Bible and pray regularly and tell others about Jesus Christ. God would grow his ministry if he remained faithful to Him.

Remember also the Turkana pastor of Nandi Hills church, Joshua Ebei, who had to take his family back to their homeland? If he hasn’t already, he will start a new church in that area.

The Kikuyu pastor from Tinderet, Samwel Kiarie, and his family are now in their family homeland. I’m sure he has already started a new church there.

The Kikuyu pastor from Lengut, Duncan Karinde, is still in a refugee camp in Nakuru. He and his family survived the horrible murders that took place in that town, and he probably has a church going for the refugees. His brother, also a born-again Christian, is with him.

The ministry in Kenya is not over. There’s much more to be done. The Church of Jesus Christ will continue to spread and grow amidst the persecution, war and famine as it has always done throughout history. And it will be stronger. Pray for your Christian brothers and sisters around the world.

Mungu awabariki! God bless you all!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pray for Revival

The situation in Kenya is getting worse. It’s now being reported that children are being attacked on their way to school in some places. God has graciously given me a safe haven, while thousands of people are suffering greatly. This is the typical historical situation where great revivals have begun, and I believe that’s exactly what God wants to happen here in Kenya. Please pray toward that end.

Last Sunday was a very busy and interesting day. The church in Kipture came to visit the church in Cheptabach. The service began at 10:00 a.m., but the Kipture group didn’t arrive until 11:30 a.m. We finally ended at 3:00 p.m. because Kipture had some special presentations for Henry, Dorcas and me. Henry received a set of mugs. Dorcas received a leso, or kikoi, the all purpose African wrap-around. I also received one of those, plus a kerosene lantern, a huge bunch of bananas and a set of soup dishes which everyone uses to eat red beans and rice.

Dorcas and a friend cooked lunch (yep, you guessed it—red beans and rice) for all the Kipture group and we ate together at my house, all 18 of us, but not until the truck they rented was fixed. What a truck! It was a rattle trap and broke down a few yards from the church. When they opened the hood, I saw many things just hanging and I wondered how they ever made it from Kipture. The driver thought it was out of gas, so we tried siphoning from my car. That didn’t work, so I took a few of the people with me to my house and got a container of gas. We were only about 15 minutes away on lovely, dusty dirt roads. I took the gas back to the poor little truck, but that wasn’t the only problem. So I took another group of people back to my house while several people worked on the truck. When I returned, the truck was running and on the road. Everyone finally arrived at the house and we ate lunch at 5:00 p.m.

After lunch I played the piano for them, and then we started singing hymns. The Kalenjin have incorporated many of our old hymns into their worship in their language with slight variations in melody and rhythm. It was quite a time of praising our Lord in two languages at the same time, something like Pentecost, only on a much smaller scale. Actually, there’s really no comparison to that great day when the Holy Spirit came in such magnificent power on thousands of people! How awesome it would be if that happened in Kenya! The problems would be resolved by the power of God!

Let me stop on that note of praise and hope. The people here say thank you for the prayers of their American brothers and sisters in Christ for them and their country. We are all looking to God for the answers.

Mungu awabariki!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Saga Continues

I am safe and still at home, but there have been three days of demonstrations during which people have been killed or injured. So I have remained in my house except for the morning dog walk with Bush. Friday, the Kalenjin radio station put on the air pastors who were praying and pleading with people to stay home and not participate in the demonstrations. Probably some did, but most did not.

Remember the church that was burned in Eldoret where 50 people died? A friend sent me a World Christian Ministries Newsletter that adds more to that story. The church that burned belonged to Kenya Assemblies of God. There were 300 people inside. One hundred were seriously burned and 16 had burns over 90% of their bodies. And that was only one of the 98 churches the Kenya Assemblies of God lost through fire or destruction. More than 64,000 of their church members were displaced. In the Mt. Elgon area 15 churches belonging to the Kenya Evangelistic Team were lost. Many other churches of other fellowships were destroyed, but a definite number is not available. None of this was reported by the media because the government banned most of the reporting.

All of our Baptist churches are OK in Nandi Hills. Only one has been in peril because it is located in the valley below the Nandi escarpment where sugar cane fields have been burned, along with several homes. The church is in Kimwani, and is the brand new building that the mission team built in July. They met last Sunday for the first time in a few weeks because they feared being burned alive. Several of the church members, however, have lost their homes to fire and are in need of food and blankets. Right now they’re staying with neighbors.

I’ve told you about the pastor at Lengut, Duncan Karinde, a Kikuyu who was taken away along with his wife and little boy, and Samwel Kiarie, another Kikuyu, who was pastor of a church in Tinderet. They are both being moved to the Nakuru area where their family homes are located. They will be fine, but we’ll probably not see them again.

Also we’re losing another pastor, Joshua Ebei, of the new church in Nandi Hills town. Stealing and other crimes are still going on in the town against anyone who voted for Kibaki, no matter what tribe they belong to. Joshua told me he must take his wife, who is pregnant, and their two children back to his family home and safety in Turkana which is in northwest Kenya. He plans to start a church there. Isn’t persecution the way the early church grew in the New Testament? Our awesome God always brings good out of bad. Could this be the beginning of revival in Kenya? I pray it is!

Henry and I went to Nandi Hills town this morning (Saturday) to get more gas for the generator, check the mail and get five days’ worth of newspapers. We were told it was safe and the roads were unblocked, but we saw more burned buildings from the recent riots. The gas supply was low, but we were able to get what we needed. However, the Post Office has yet to receive any mail since all the trouble began on December 30. I receive only two things in the mail regularly—my bank statement and Celtel bill—so I wasn’t missing much. Henry, however, is studying some missions courses by correspondence and internet at a school in South Africa, and they sent him some information in the mail which he hasn’t received. He’s suffering a double whammy now because his computer must have a virus and the technicians are in Kisumu, a town that’s still too dangerous to visit.

I must share one amazing scene of destruction in the Kibera slums in Nairobi. The people tore up 2 km of railroad tracks that run through the slums on the way to Uganda. It’s a main artery carrying goods and supplies to Uganda from Kenya. The pictures were amazing. The cross ties are made of steel like the tracks, so the whole thing came up together and looked like fencing. After my amazement subsided, I thought, If the tracks are that easy to pull up, how safe is it to travel on them!
The tea estates continue to suffer because the opposition has told the people not to work even if they don’t attend the demonstrations. They’re afraid to go against such demands because people have been killed or injured if they do.

Good news: The opposition party leader, Raila Odinga of ODM (Orange Democratic Party), announced yesterday that they were going to stop the demonstrations since so many people are being killed. Instead they’re telling everyone to honor an economic boycott against any business that has anything to do with President Kibaki and his Party of National Unity (PNU). Kofi Annan, whose original visit was postponed by illness, is due to arrive here on Tuesday to start some dialogue. We’ll see if it happens. So the tunnel continues to lengthen with no sign of light at the end.

The Bible tells us in Exodus 9:16 that God raised up Pharaoh for this reason: that I might show you (the Israelites) My power and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Let us all pray that because of what’s happening here in Kenya, God will show His great power so that everyone on earth will know He is the only true God!

Thank you for your prayers!

Mungu awabariki!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hello, Prayer Warriors,

Yesterday evening I was able to move back to my house. Sure feels good! When I left everything was so extremely quiet, but now roosters are crowing all day, a cow passed by the house mooing very loudly, children were playing and people were talking. Quite a difference--sounded like a normal day.

Today Henry and I went to Nandi Hills town to go to the bank, post office and get gas for the car and generator. The bank was open and the ATM was working, but no mail had been delivered yet. And there was no gas at the only remaining filling station. I saw the Total station that was burned to just a brick shell and some shops that were boarded up and burn marks in the road where tires were set on fire. Other than that it didn't look too bad.

We needed gas so we drove to Kapsabet. Along that road more burn marks were evident and on the sides of the road were piles of huge rocks and tree trunks that had been used as roadblocks. One roadblock remained but it was situated between two speed bumps (called "sleeping policemen" here) so vehicles had to slow down and were able to go around it.

When we reached Kapsabet the first gas station where we stopped had only diesel, so we had to go into town. I was about the 5th car in line for gas, and they were rationing what was left. Two pumps were empty; only one was still operating. We drove away with 3/4 tank in the car and 40 liters in the containers for the generator, which will last about a week if we're careful.

Politically doubts are rising again. President Kibaki appointed 17 men to his new cabinet--something he wasn't supposed to do until after the negotiations with the Ghanian president. That made the opposition mad and Odinga announced they wouldn't speak with Kibaki on Friday as planned. Time will tell. A very good thing happened: Kibaki appointed Kalonzo Musyoka as Vice-President. He was the third runner-up in the presidential race and is a born-again Baptist, godly man. How exciting to know that his advice will be heard even if not heeded.

One more ominous report came out last night. Henry received two text messages and the Kalenjin radio announced that Mungiki, the evil, decapitating, murderous Kikuyu gang, is training in Nakuru (half way between us and Nairobi) and will be dispatched to all the major towns, including Eldoret and Kisumu. Anna and I wondered how long it would take for the Kikuyu to take revenge for all the murders and displacements they have endured. This group was front-page news a few months ago until pressure was put on Kibaki to reign them in. We'll see what happens this time.

So, as I said before, getting the country back to normal will probably take quite a while. Please keep praying. God is answering prayers, but the enemy hasn't given up yet.

Mungu awabariki!