Greetings in the Lord from Liverpool, England, where we are spending a long weekend en route to the States. Getting ready to be away from home for 4 months is always arduous with pastoral ministry continuing to the time of departure. And this time there were also two big meetings to be involved with.
1. Trinity Baptist Leaders’ Meeting (April 2-4)
Every local church must be either registered with the Government or be covered by the registration of another church. When new churches start they naturally operate under the registration of Trinity Baptist Church, Nairobi. We recommend them to seek their own independent registration when they have a functioning leadership in place. Five churches have so far gone this way. There are presently more than 30 under our registration and we called the leaders together for these few days of fellowship. Having had to postpone the Association meetings because of the elections, and there being no Pastors’ Conference this year, we felt the need of fellowship together. They came from various parts of the country and we were thankful for the peace in the country that made it possible.
Pastor Murungi and I ministered to them: Acts 20:28 on taking heed to oneself and to the flock, fellowship among sister churches, guidelines for the local church, theological training, church finances, constitutional requirements. We also had extensive reporting on the progress on each of the churches. We trust they returned to their appointed fields of labour with much vigour for the great task of the day is to preach the word in season and out of season.
As Elders in Nairobi we find taking responsibility for these churches until they grow to maturity a heavy one, especially the financial aspects – constant requests for support of leaders either by regular funding or setting up income generating projects, and to make contributions for funerals and even weddings, sicknesses and transport to meetings. This is undoubtedly the most difficult aspect of our ministry that we are seeking to turn over completely to our deacons.
2. Reformation Conference (April 10-13)
Let me give you some background to this encouraging development in Kenya! A few years back Bill & Tessa Sked found themselves in Mumias, west Kenya. They come from Queensland, Australia and their daughter, who had worked in Africa, encouraged them to visit. They were converted from atheism in mid-life, went through many years in the charismatic movement, and now find great joy in the doctrines of grace and very openly proclaiming this Biblical truth. I do not know how it was that they came to Mumias, except that there must have been a divine imperative. Yet, here they were, preaching in a church pastored by Noah Ikari. He called upon a near-by pastor, Elly Achok to translate. That one hour was life transforming as Billy preached the true gospel. For a number of weeks Elly wrestled with the reformed doctrines until he was firmly convinced of their truth. Elly was put into contact with us and he has completed the three years of training in our PTC in Nairobi. He preached for his older brother Barnabas in Mombasa who was concerned at the changes from the ‘Word of Faith’ ministry they had been immersed in for a decade. Barnabas is now in his 2nd. year in the PTC, and Noah joined at the beginning of 2013.
This is the third ‘Reformation Conference’ to be hosted by Elly Achok and the church in Mumias (named Gospel Missions Agency). Each year it has grown substantially. From Wednesday-Friday there were 100-150 present, the vast majority from charismatic backgrounds, with a contingent of more than 20 from Uganda, and even a few from Rwanda and Burundi. Saturday saw 400 gathered for the first graduation of 30 men and women from ‘The School of Wisdom’, a 9 month training course thoroughly committed to the precious Reformation truths.
What I found so encouraging, after ministering here in Kenya for 40 years, was the very open and direct preaching of the doctrines of grace. The theme was: What’s wrong with the Gospel? Elly Achok opened the Conference with ‘Is there no physician here?’ (Jeremiah 8:22) and gave 4 reasons from the chapter why God judges, with the obvious application that Kenya is ripe for judgment. Bill Sked had 5 sessions on the content of the Authentic Gospel. I myself had 6 sessions on Romans 8:28-30 and the ‘Golden Chain’. Barnabas Olare from Mombasa has 2 sessions on the Characteristics of False Teaching – misconceptions about God (Acts 17:16-31), and misconceptions about man (Romans 3:9-18). To many these truths were totally new and there was much mental wrestling (and we trust in the heart also) as was shown by the long list of questions for the Q & A session. May the Lord give abundant fruit for His glory. PRAY for brothers Elly & Barnabas as they lead this work.
3. For Prayer
(1) Progress of the Biblical Gospel in Kenya. We have great opportunities in Nairobi:
- Meaty Forum – This continues the 2nd. Friday evening of every month with 60-100 young adults in attendance.
- TV Station – We have been offered the possibility of having a digital station and a number of brethren are seriously looking into its viability for us.
- Christian School – A number of our families have seen the deficiencies in the typical education facilities in Kenya and want something specifically Christian.
- PTC – It will continue in my absence with brethren from UK and USA coming to teach in May and July.
- Pastor Murungi – Although we will be in regular contact by email there is a very heavy weight of responsibility on him as the only Elder.
(2) Leave in USA. From April 23 to May 28 we are in the States. For the first 2 weeks we shall be in the State of Pennsylvania, first at a weekend Missions Conference and then visiting a number of other churches in the east of the State. For the last 3 weeks we shall be with son Jonathan and family in Ohio, with a weekend visit to a church in Indiana. Please PRAY that we shall be refreshed and useful to the Lord in His kingdom.
In Christ’s service,
Keith & Priscilla Underhill