12th. December we had a day-long meeting especially for those who are in relationships they hope will lead to marriage. We met in a Retreat Centre far the other side of Nairobi and had lunch and refreshments provided. We were 7 married couples as the panel and about 20 young people, all but one from TBC. There was a sense of unity of purpose in wanting to live according to the Scriptures in our relationships. Matters of conflict with culture were brought up and well discussed – dowry payment, wife is considered as daughter in groom’s family, dominant role of extended family in society. We are so thankful to God that He has given us wise brethren as these issues are dealt with.
We had the joy of formally welcoming three new members at the Lord’s Supper, 8th. December.
(1) Sarah Kane.
(2) Robert & Jennifer Mwangi (with 2 young children). They belonged to a very charismatic church in Nairobi before going for studies in Hanover, Germany. The first church Robert attended there was the International Baptist Church and for the first time he heard the Biblical Faith preached. As they were going abroad they were so concerned about finding a church like the one they had known in Nairobi; now on returning it was finding one in Kenya like that in Hanover. They found us through the internet and have been totally committed to the life of the church since then, for which we are very thankful to the Lord.
From 29th. November to 3rd. December we hosted our 2nd. Camp and this time we restricted participants to those who are in one of the 4 years of High School (pre-University), so roughly ages 14-18. There were around 60 from different parts of the country. When our Interns announced the theme would be The Five Solas, I thought it would be too heady. But it was exactly what they needed to stand against the false teaching that abounds and more importantly to show them what salvation truly is. So we thank God for the days cramped up in our small compound and we have reason to believe some have been deeply impacted spiritually.
After 24 years we found it necessary to replace the roof which had become brittle so that there were leaks, and the auditorium had become so hot with the sun beating down on the roof. It also gave us the opportunity to get rid of the part-asbestos tiles and have aluminium roofing so that we can harvest the rain water.
AO visited us in Nairobi 8-21st. November. He was converted here in Nairobi in 1997 and resettled to Ethiopia in 2001. He came for a time of fellowship and strengthening of the links between us. His ministry in Addis is to broadcast the gospel to his S0mal1 people and to visit contacts throughout the region. Please PRAY for this vital ministry and that the Lord might be pleased to protect him from the many dangers. We also have NH as a church member here who struggles having no job, having had to divorce his wife, and having his children turned against him as a Christian.
We talked about the possibility of starting a genuinely reformed church in Addis Ababa, a place dominated by charismatics. There is already a small group meeting on Saturdays for Bible study. We are liaising with an Ethiopian Pastor in London.
The 8 students came for the 6th. and last time this year, 6-13th. November. Our course was The Letters of Paul. It was a rich time as we were able to go through large chunks of the Scriptures. This always tends to be an eye-opener as there is no background of going through Scriptures verse by verse.
We have also agreed to admit 4 new students to add to the 8. Others who have applied have been deferred to 2015 Lord willing. 2 out of the 6 times in 2014 there will be visiting lecturers. Please PRAY that (1) there will be more such guest lecturers as the amount of work involved in teaching and marking is too much for me together with other responsibilities, and (2) that we will find a suitable online course that will enable a few of our brethren to do more studies so that they can teach the PTC themselves in the future.
From 22nd. to 28th. November I went west with Johan (from Denmark).
(1) Chebang’ang’ (near Kericho). Here David Ng’etich ministers in Glory Baptist Church. He used to be a member in Nairobi when he was at Bible School 15 years ago. He called around 10 local pastors so I could talk to them on ‘Tongues’. I decided to look at the issue more broadly by considering 1 Corinthians 12-14 as a whole. I was struck by two things. Hardly any of these men brought their Bibles with them. When provided with them they did not seem to know their way around the various parts. There is so much ignorance! In talking, some of them admitted that they get their teaching from listening to preachers in Crusades.
(2) Nyaguda (near Bondo). Here on Saturday afternoon we drove through Kisumu, Kenya’s 3rd. largest city. Nyaguda is on Lake Victoria so there is much fishing and eating of fish! I had never been here before but the father of the man leading this church planting work I first knew in 1979. Gilbert Opany had met us in Nairobi and it is he who gave us contacts so that work in west Kenya began in the early 1980s. His now old wife is still alive and had heard much about me and was so delighted that I finally came to their home.
This is the Sunday service meeting under a tree outside someone’s house.
On Sunday I preached on Galatians 6:14 in the morning, and after lunch on Ephesians 5:1-2. The background of these people is very much Old Testament as shown by some of the many questions afterwards. Why don’t we stone rebellious children (Deut. 21)? Should we remove shoes on entering a church building? Are there priests today? So many of the questions are about externals, but this always gives an opportunity to preach about the things that really matter.
On Monday Nathan had called local pastors for a meeting in a Community Resource Centre where he wanted me to deal with Justification. Once again I decided to go through the Scriptures, Romans 1-5.
A few pastors and young people from the church plant discussing about Justification
There were some good questions that were provoked by the Biblical doctrine. What happens when we sin after being justified? What is the relationship between justification and baptism? Was there faith in the Old Testament? How can I know my sins are forgiven? One man publicly admitted that although a long-standing preacher he has not properly understood the Old Testament.
Nathan Opany, his wife, 6 children, and mother, at the home in Nyaguda.
Nyaguda is a hard area to work in. His father had tried to start a church but it came to nothing. There is much false teaching and traditionalism. In addition, to support his family, Nathan drives a motorbike for more than 12 hours 6 days a week. This has become a common form of public transport in the rural areas of Kenya. May Nathan clearly preach the true gospel message and we are sure the word will not return to the Lord without a harvest.
(3) Siaya. A bit to the north of Bondo is the church linked to TBC and whose leader is Charles Abwok. We had a morning meeting here on Tuesday as we passed by, and I preached to them about the armour of God from Ephesians 6:10-18. Only 5 were able to be present although the church is quite small.
(4) Funyula (near Busia on the Ugandan border). In this small town Simon Ochieng’ is seeking to plant a church. After arrival he was eager to show us the 100 chickens at the back of his house, a project we have helped him to develop so he can become self-sustaining. Simon is finding the work in the town difficult, with people showing interest and then going away. There are 12 members, but only 7 are resident. On Wednesday we went outside the town for a few kilometres, to Dhila, where there are some interested people. Around 20 people, mostly women gathered in a large living room, and I preached on, What is a Christian, from Acts 2:37-42. After being provided with lunch, I was given a complete stick of bananas, mangoes, maize cobs and a live chicken. Such is Kenyan hospitality, from people we would consider poor. In the afternoon we visited the homes of one former PTC student (Eric), and one who has just completed his first year (Hezbon). Hezbon supports himself, wife and 4 children, by selling second-hand men’s trousers/jeans at local markets. He is finding things very difficult and is considering giving up ministry for a while so he can concentrate on business and studies. His wife clearly told him, Whatever you do complete the studies!
(5) Mumias. One the way back to Nairobi I took 3 young people from Funyula for the High School Camp. We stopped in to have a cup of tea with Elly Achok, who finished the PTC in 2012. He agreed with me that our Reformed Pastors think they have done enough when they expound Scripture, sola Scriptura! They do not seem to emphasize the central issues of depravity and grace in order to expose the false man-centred gospel. The Elly showed me the draft of a book he hopes soon to publish, Hell’s Best Revealed Secret, Reflections on the Invitation System. He was a totally devoted practitioner of the system for 17 years until the Lord revealed the doctrines of grace to him. This is the sort of writing and preaching that we need here in Kenya.
At the end of October I returned from a 12 day visit to encourage the ministry in Pokot North. It has been difficult to write this as there is too much! I hope to put more details on the website sometime. Cliff Barton, a Deacon from Belvidere Road Baptist in Liverpool, England, and Johan Mortensen from Denmark, accompanied me. Once again it was a very full time as we were able to visit 10 of the 12 places where there is a church and this involved some quite lengthy walks through the beautiful Kenyan bush. We continue to be thankful to God for devotion of the 5 trained leaders and their continuing unity. This has been one area of ministry where the work has progressed without any great problem since we officially got involved in 2000.
Every day there were many opportunities to minister the word of God, amongst the churches and the schools, both publicly and privately.
MINISTRY IN THE CHURCHES
I did all the preaching in the churches (22 times). It is all done through translation, something I have become very accustomed to. I take very basic themes, Imitating Christ, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare, Salvation by Grace. Because of the prevalent false teaching about the Holy Spirit I was asked to preach to help counter the errors – Being Filled with the Spirit, Work of the Spirit (Rm. 8:1-14), Fruit of the Spirit. There were some special evangelistic times – Prodigal Son, Call of Levi, Jn. 3:16. The last Sunday I was bold enough to seek to preach through the Sermon on the Mount in 3 messages, one chapter each time. The Lord was so gracious in helping me, giving me good health throughout, and receiving much appreciation from the hearers.
Although this is a remote area of Kenya the competition among churches is great. For example, we were the first to go to Wasat a few years ago. Now 4 other groups have come, and not content to put their building nearby, they also speak openly against Trinity. We are often a target of attack that we ‘do not have the Spirit’ because of our reverent worship style, something rare in Kenya today. I trust it is because of the solid teaching we give that none of the 30+ Wasat members have so far defected, yet they are all young Christians.
Kasepa ‘circle’ after preaching
Kasei church new building
Kapkewa joint Sunday service
Preaching at Kwirir
Joshua Sitet, Samuel Ng’etich & Isaiah Juma
Wazee (older men) at Wasat
Mzee at Chepkinagh Traditional Ladies at Kwirir
Apur church building and nursery school
Preaching at Kwirir
Andrew Chemolok’s house at Chepkinagh
There are 12 churches but only 3 trained church leaders and 2 others who have particular responsibilities in the Schools. Lord willing, we hope there will be 2 more who can be trained here in the Nairobi PTC beginning 2015. The brethren there also have the plan to start a training based on the Kamketo church. This can cater for those who do not have enough English facility to be in the Nairobi course. The church at Kasepa does not have a leader at all, as all the men eligible are polygamists. A new church has started at Kwirir near Wasat. We heard from the men at Kwirir that they have seen the change the gospel has brought to people in Wasat, and they would like to be brought such a good message. So the gospel is slowly penetrating and changing lives. There are yet more places that are calling our brethren to go with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A church building project is underway at Kasei. The foundation has been laid and the walls are beginning to rise. A larger and more permanent building is needed, seating up to 300 because this is where we sponsor a Primary School and Secondary School. All the boarders attend the service. The Pokot brethren have pledged to provide about one-quarter of the cost and are praying that well-wishers will help them with the rest.
MINISTRY IN THE SCHOOLS
There are thousands of children registered in the Schools started by Trinity Baptist Church and we have a wonderful opportunity of ministering to them. The Kenya Government is unable to provide enough teachers so it is left to us to make up the shortfall. As a result we support over 30 teachers and in addition other staff.
New school buildings at Kasepa
Chepkinagh Primary School
Kasei Primary School
Kasei Boys’ Secondary School
Cliff & Johan spoke to the children in the 6 Primary Schools we were able to visit. 4 of these Schools have reached class 8, the final year of Primary education, when a very important exam is taken. All over the country a special time of prayer is arranged for these exam candidates and parents are expected to be present. It is of course a prostitution of true Biblical prayer. I asked the students what they wanted me to pray for – success was the obvious reply! I told them that I cannot do that as success also depends on how they have worked over the years, and what native ability God has given them. When you ask them what they want to grow up to be, for most it is a doctor, a lawyer, and engineer, because they know these are the professions with the money. I sought to warn them against the love of money.
The Government, through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) is slowly putting up some permanent classrooms, but this is way behind the needs. The school at Kapterema has the full 8 classes but only 2 permanent classrooms, and another 3 of mud and iron sheets. Above everything else what is needed are the teachers, even if they have to teach under a tree. This is why we seek to make sure each class has a teacher.
We were encouraged in our visit to the Secondary School in Kasei although the boys were on half-term break. We were met and shown round by the Principal who is a very co-operative man who seems so interested in the school. There are more than 100 boys, and with the addition of the final class intake in 2014 it is reckoned there will be around 200, as the school is becoming popular. A dormitory is now complete, and a science laboratory nearing completion. But the best thing was to go into the ICT room and see 10 computers and all the equipment needed to use them! And this is a place that has no access to electricity, and the network is only a few years old. Isaiah Juma has a special responsibility to minister to these students. We suggested that we organize a special weekend of ministry for the students next year, and the Principal was encouraging for that.