2011, No. 3 (31/1/11)

Dear Brethren

It is a joy to be able to write to you again to ask you both to thank the Lord for His sustaining grace and to plead with Him for the triumph of the gospel, according to His promise.  I had the privilege of preaching from Ephesians 1:22-23 yesterday and to show that all the Lord does in heaven and on earth is for the advantage of His church.  What a privileged people we are!  In the evening I am continuing on The Life of Faith in the life of Abraham.  Genesis 16 shows how necessary it is to have the Patience of Faith.  May God grant us such faith that we are willing even to leave this world confident that His promises will be fulfilled.  We continue to experience blessed Lord’s days with many visitors and even some old people returning, with a number considering membership.

Please pray for our brother Raphael Bulkash ministering in the Sokoteey area.  He came and visited us 12 days ago in Nairobi to tell us what has been happening.  For a long time there has been opposition and threats for there are those who want him to move away from the area.  They are not happy about the gospel ministry although they do not say so directly of course.  After Christmas 8 women were incited to beat his wife, all known people.  Although she was not seriously injured, she received a battering.  It is obviously a police case.  Still Lucy is not willing to leave the area.  The opposition came to head with the start of construction of an orphanage by Kindfund from Northern Ireland (www.kindfund.com under Laisamis).  Even traditionally this is unacceptable conduct.  Neighbouring communities are asking, “Why did you not ask us to help you if you have a problem with these people, as they are our people, they are Rendille?”  Even Raphael’s father came and asked why he was not called if there was a problem with his ‘daughter’.  As the work of the gospel in this unreached area is now at a very critical juncture, may the Lord raise up voices to oppose the opposition, and may there be those who have heard the gospel who will now show they believe in it from their hearts.  This will also affect the work in Losidan (where we have a primary school), Ndigir & Kamatonyi (where we have nursery schools), and these are all places where we regularly preach the gospel.  May love overcome such satanic opposition.
It is also a time of deepening famine with the almost total failure of the rains.  Animals are dying and many people are looking thin.  Patrick is telling those with animals to sell, but it is not cultural, so many will die and leave people again in penury.  So far the Government has done little and this is a situation pertaining all over north Kenya.  Patrick has written from Korr that people are regularly coming to his hut asking for food, so that we have decided that we will be sending money regularly to help.

After I wrote No. 2 about the new students we had a farewell lunch for the 3 who will not be returning for the lectures as they have completed attendance at all courses.  It only remains for them to complete the written work.  In true Kenyan style speeches had to be made.  They were profusely thankful for all the Lord had taught them during their 3+ years.  They remarked that 2 years ago it had seemed as if the PTC would collapse, but not only were their worst fears not realized, they believe it has gone from strength to strength.  I had heard somewhat informally that they had formed themselves into a ‘Students’ Association’ and it was time for the Chairman to address us.  He told who they as students had chosen as the new Chairman and said both those remaining and those going would remain in fellowship and seek to encourage each other in the service of the Lord.  They even plan to visit each other’s places of ministry for fellowship and evangelism.  What I find so encouraging is that at last they are owning this training ministry as theirs.  May the Lord raise up future teachers from among them!

Wedding formalities
Still on the subject of culture, I had the privilege of attending a gathering of about 150 people in Thika (just north of Nairobi) to prepare for a wedding in April.  The father of the bride is Paul Kianji, one of the first persons I ever met in Kenya as I taught with him in Miathene Secondary School 1968-1970.  He is now retired and one of the pastors in the Trinity Church in Miathene.  It was the turn of his family and friends to visit the home of the intended groom.  The reverse had been done a few months previously and the dowry issue settled.  Along with many others I was honoured that he wanted me next to him.  There were 2 canopies for the 2 groups and we sat facing one another.  Each side had its MC who made sure everyone introduced himself or herself.  As the only white person I quipped that I was the only person about whom it was obvious that I was not a blood relative!  Yet so closely ‘related’ because I have my room in their house, and we are brothers in Christ.  I was privileged to close the whole meeting in prayer which was an opportunity to make the gospel known.  The intended couple were not the centre, but rather their families as centred in their parents.  Isn’t this a good culture, although it goes too far when it is claimed that the groom’s family has gained a daughter, when both have actually left their parents to form a new family.  It was exciting when a man in a big black hat came to greet me by name from the other side.  I was taken aback until he explained that he was my student 42 years ago in Miathene!  Many high and mighty were present and who they were was made very obvious.  Thank God for the saints for each one of whom Christ died so they are equally loved whatever their earthly station.  What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?

We are beginning to plan 3+ months leave from the end of May.  We hope to spend more time in the States, the beginning of June to the beginning of August.  Some of it we will spend with our son Jonathan and family near Cleveland, Ohio, but we will also be willing to do some visiting.  Please let us know if you would be interested in a visit so that we can tell you in person about the ministry in Kenya.

Yours through the grace of our Lord,

Keith & Priscilla

2011, No. 2 (18/1/11)

Dear Brethren

Greetings in our Saviour’s name from Nairobi once again. We arrived back safely in Nairobi late last Tuesday night. As we came out of the plane into the terminal I remarked to Priscilla, ‘How wonderful to be back in the warmth again!’ When people here comment on how hot it is I can now tell them it is better than being in a freezer. We are thankful to the Lord for keeping us fit and healthy as we have hit the ground running. The next morning teaching in the PTC started, and apart from other duties Priscilla has had the issue of helping students with school fees.

We are also very thankful for our time in the UK with our 2 children and grandchildren. We must admit we were restricted by the coldness of the weather. We were also able to be in 4 different churches and with some other brethren, and we so much appreciated the Christian love we were shown. In our 17 days absence from Kenya the Lord greatly helped Pastor Murungi and other brethren in the ministry of the church. We are seeing such encouragements, from a number of new young people coming with such enthusiasm, 2 members who have moved in the church neighbourhood, 1 member returning to Nairobi, to the joy of seeing 2 former members visiting from abroad (USA & UK) still referring to this church as their ‘home’. Many brethren have made good new year’s resolutions and we trust the Lord will make them faithful to what they have promised and it will prove a great blessing to the church.

On Sunday I was very struck by the singing. We only sing hymns from Grace hymnbook, and without any accompaniment. Because choirs and endless choruses are the order of the day, we have always been a bit embarrassed by our singing; but now by God’s grace the brethren are giving themselves to making a joyful noise unto the Lord. A number come early to practice the hymns we are to sing in the service.

Pastoral Theological Course (PTC)

  1. From last Wednesday through this coming Wednesday we have the privilege of going through the Letters of Paul. I have been concerned to give them the Biblical-Theological perspective as in Ridderbos’ book on Paul. We demonstrated it from Galatians 3-4. Then as we were going through Romans 6-7 a few of them wondered if some of the difficulties in interpretation would be helped by this perspective. Irrespective of the correctness or otherwise of this, it was so encouraging that they had not only understood but were prepared to go further than their teacher!

  2. This is the last time for the three 3rd. years from last year to attend. There are now three in the 3rd. year, four in the 2nd. year, and four new students. We have asked a few to drop out as they have not been able to accomplish the assignments. Of the 4 new ones, 2 are from Trinity related churches (Geoffrey Ngeny from Chebangang, Peter Nanulyit from Wasat in Pokot North). John Malala is from a charismatic church in Archer’s Post (north of Isiolo). Henry Kibet is from a church near Kericho called the Kenya Independent Protestant Reformed Church.

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We continue to solicit your prayers. These are days of great opportunity and at the same time of opposition. We are so slow to learn that when we enter Satan’s territory he does not give up without a fight. This has proved to be so especially in Rendille where Raphael Bulkash has been labouring (Lontolio area). Recently the opposition became so great that his wife was attacked and he has had to move out of the area, at least temporarily. He is coming to see us in Nairobi on Wednesday and then I will be able to report more fully. Pastor Murungi and myself have so much to do and we need much wisdom from God, especially as Murungi is a 3rd. year student in the PTC.

We are thankful for your fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Keith & Priscilla Underhill

2011, No. 4 (7/2/11)

Dear Brethren

The Lord has continued to be gracious to us as we preach to and pastor the flock of God here in Nairobi.

The latest news about Raphael Bulkash is that he has had to move his family from Sokoteey to another village called Ndigir. Here we have a nursery school, and they have been warmly welcomed. It is only about 5 miles away. He told me that yesterday there were 50 men at the service and 100 children! Please continue to pray that the Lord will give him patience, and grace to respond to the problems in a way that will adorn the gospel. I had to postpone my going a couple of weeks ago, and now I am preparing to visit towards the end of February.

We are looking forward to the 12 days visit of Geoffrey Thomas, long time pastor of the Alfred Place Baptist Church in Aberystwyth, Wales. This is the town where I went to study in 1964, where the Lord saved me, and where Geoff came in early 1965. We have been privileged to be in close fellowship ever since, and A.P. became our sending church in 1974.

Thursday 10th. – Morning arrival, getting caught up with sleep and trying to adjust to the heat. Afternoon visitation to faithful members.

Friday 11th. – Supper with 3 families in Kahawa Sukari, long-standing members.

Saturday 12th. – Men’s breakfast at 8 a.m. Annual General Meeting for the 56 members at 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday 13th. – Geoff Thomas will be speaking at both services, at 11 a.m. and at 4 p.m. A young man (Huston) will be baptized in the morning service, there will be a special lunch for the occasion, and we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper at 3 p.m.

Monday 14th. – We leave at 5.30 a.m. for the long drive to Kamketo, Pokot North, to be part of the annual Reformed Baptist Association of Kenya meetings (RBAK). I do not expect that we will arrive before it is dark (7 p.m.). This is always a wonderful time when like-minded brethren from different parts of Kenya get together for fellowship.

Tuesday 15th. to Thursday 17th. Geoff Thomas will be speaking 4 times, and I will have one session. Late Wednesday afternoon we will visit Kasei and see how the Secondary School has started. The last session is on Thursday afternoon and is the Delegates meeting. High on the agenda is the continuing need for unity among those confessing to be Reformed and Baptist in Kenya. The Association is earnestly committed to this for the glory of God.

Friday 18th. – We leave about 8 a.m. for the long journey back to Nairobi and do not expect to arrive before 9 p.m.

Saturday 19th. – Visiting of church members in the afternoon.

Sunday 20th. – Geoff will preach in the morning, and our pastor, Murungi, in the ‘evening’.

Monday 21st. – Final visiting to encourage members in the morning. Geoff departs in the evening to return to Aberystwyth.

This now our hottest season of the year, and although I cope with it well, it is hot! The journey to Pokot is long and arduous, as well as beautiful. We cross the equator. We make the steep descent into the great Rift Valley and up the other side. The road is the artery for transport across Kenya and into Uganda, South Sudan, Congo, and Rwanda, so lots of lorries. We climb up to 9,000ft. where the vegetation reminds one of the home country. In fact vast tracts of land around Eldoret were known as the White Highlands in colonial days. Then as we enter Pokot we sharply descend to the plains where the Pokot herd their cattle.

It is a privilege to be here in Kenya to serve the Lord where there is such openness and so many opportunities to bring the gospel to people.

In Christ’s service,

Keith Underhill

2011, No. 1 (3/1/11)

Dear Brethren

First we want to thank the Lord for keeping us throughout the past year, one that has been fuller than ever with opportunities for ministry of the Gospel. Then we want to thank the Lord for you who have stood with us by your prayers and encouragements.

2010 Review

  • In July Murungi Igweta joined me in the Eldership.

  • 10 new members were added during the year, with still others on the way.

  • We enjoyed unity and peace in the church.

  • The Pastors’ Theological Course (PTC) continued very encouragingly with most of the students faithfully coming and completing their assignments; on my part I was also able to mark all the work given me.

  • 2 visits were made to Rendille. Despite various kinds of opposition, progress was made, especially with the Patrick Ochieng family settling to labour in Korr.

  • 3 visits were made to Pokot North. Both churches and schools are progressing under the 3 trained leaders and it has been agreed to start training another brother. It is becoming increasingly difficult to provide the 30+ salaries for the teachers employed in the schools. A secondary school under the sponsorship of the church is due to begin in the new year in Kasei.

  • More than 20 churches were represented at the Reformed Baptist Association of Kenya (RBAK) meetings in February in Oyani; and 50 brethren came to the Pastors’ Conference in Nairobi in April where they had to listen to me on the Holy Spirit rather than Geoffrey Thomas who was unable to travel because of the Icelandic volcano.

  • Youth camps. The school year ends in November, and December is always a time for youth to come together. In Oyani (South Nyanza) 100 youth met for a week from 4 churches; also in Kasei (Pokot North) there were 100 from the 10 churches. Some of our youth from Nairobi and 4 from Olgumi went to Miathene to join with 40+ from there and led by Murungi (who comes from Miathene).

  • Many other visits were made to Association churches in other parts of the country throughout the year.

  • S0mal1 ministry. Our brother and Deacon Mohamed was resettled in the States where he continues a ministry among his own people. Another was baptized and there continue to be new contacts. Abdi from Ethiopia broadcasts the Gospel.

  • Early in the year a first visit to South Sudan to make contact with the brethren of the Trinity Baptist Churches of Sudan and their leader, David Awan Malek.

2011 Preview

  • We return on January 11th. from our time in UK with the children.

  • The PTC begins on January 12th. and we expect 5 new students in addition to the 10 who will continue.

  • A further visit to encourage the work in Rendille is planned.

  • In February the Association meetings will be held in Pokot North (Kamketo) and Geoffrey Thomas will be visiting, Lord willing.

  • In April we will again host the Pastors’ Conference in Nairobi and Gary Brady from London will be our guest.

  • God willing, we shall receive new members, our depleted Diaconate will be augmented, and we shall be looking for a further Elder.

We ask you to continue in fellowship with us through 2011.

In Christ’s service,

Keith & Priscilla Underhill