site maintenance: video clips

An update of the WordPress site architecture was causing all of the embedded videos we have posted to display only the now archaic and out-dated code instead of the actual videos.  This has now been corrected, both on the video pages and in various posts.

Of special note are two new Maasai worship songs recently posted:  one sung by the students of my recent CCBTI class and one written during this year’s DTI session.  So if you haven’t seen those yet, we invite you to take a look.

Bible Training REMIX

Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI) has two new campuses.  In addition to Turkana Bible Training Institute (TBTI) in Lodwar, we have successfully opened two new branches serving the Maasai churches.  The Ewaso Ng’iro campus, in Narok County, opened classes in August 2016 with six students.  In September the campus in Nga’tataek, in Kajiado County, offered its first class with 17 pastors attending.

I taught our Enkinosata Ororei le Nkai (“Eating the Word of God”) class at Ewaso Ng’iro in October.  Here’s a two minute video of a worship chorus, in Maa, which I composed during the class:

June 2016 update

Greetings from Kenya!

It is a wonderful privilege to serve as a co-minister of reconciliation of Christ Jesus our Lord and friend. We would love to hear what God is doing through and around you in the place God has you. To read a sample of a few of things God is doing through and around us in Kenya and to see a few pictures, here is a pdf copy of our latest newsletter.  If you are on our postal mailing list, you should receive a hard-copy soon.

(If you want a higher resolution copy for printing, let us know.)

 

The parable of the goat

We often emphasize the giving of tithes and offerings and neglect the broader and deeper aspects of total Christian stewardship.

Christian stewardship is like a goat. Generous giving (often expressed in tithes and offerings) is the skin of the goat. The only way to have a large, healthy goat skin is to have a full-grown healthy goat. If the goat-skin is too small, or full of holes, that is a clear indication either that the goat is still immature or that it is malnourished or sick. When it seems that the giving of tithes and offerings is too little to meet the needs of the congregation, that is a clear sign that the “goat” of stewardship needs some attention. …

Read more …

holiness is what I long for

While we spent a week earlier this month in the bush with our Discipleship Training Institute, I started singing the chorus “Holiness, Holiness is what I long for …”, except I sang it in Maa and taught to the DTI students and our dear friends Francis Yenko (the DTI Director) and Moses Mashipei (the DTI Assistant Director).  It made for great campfire music, along with the song of the night-time grazing zebra, under the Southern Cross.

Here are the lyrics (see below for the audio):

esinyatisho, esinyatisho enayieu
esinyatisho, esinyatisho ninye ayieu
esinyatisho, esinyatisho, eniyieu te nanu

intayu oltai lai, intobira
intayu enkishui ai, imbelekenya
tolino, tolino, li Aitoriani !
tolino, tolino, li Aitoriani !
tolino, tolino, li Aitoriani !

intayu oltai lai, intobira
intayu enkishui ai, imbelekenya
tolino, tolino, li Aitoriani !
tolino, tolino, li Aitoriani !
tolino, tolino, li Aitoriani !

esinyatisho, esinyatisho enayieu
esinyatisho, esinyatisho ninye ayieu
esinyatisho, esinyatisho, eniyieu te nanu


Discipleship Training Institute

One of our favorite ministry opportunities has always been time spent with our DTS (Discipleship Training School).  In order to avoid confusion with the similar ministries of YWAM (Youth With A Mission) that use the same name, we just changed the name to Discipleship Training Institute (DTI).

We’ve just spent a week out in the bush with the DTI.  Ruth has written a delightful blog post that touches on our time there.  And check back here later for another update.

Visit our Ministry page for more details about the DTI (you’ll need to scroll down).  You can also revisit our older post, “Discipleship Training School reborn“, read the full story of that rebirth (.pdf file), or browse the “Reader’s Digest” version of that story (shorter .pdf).

the corruption of scoundrels

“Now the sons of Eli were worthless men.  They did not know the LORD.”
(1 Samuel 2.12, ESV)

The word here translated as “worthless men” is בְלִיָּעַל (beliyya’al). Other major english translations render it as “wicked men” or “scoundrels.”  I’m currently enjoying a “Through the Bible” podcast in the NKJV.  Listening this week, I was struck by its translation of this verse:

“Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the LORD.”

We know that corruption is rampant.  Here in Kenya, most of the paved road nearest to our house isn’t really paved at all.  A mere half an inch (or less) of asphalt on dirt doesn’t last long between the heavy truck traffic and the heavier rains.  But there are some folks with nice, big houses that were paid for with funds intended for the roads.  Meanwhile in American politics, the two current presidential front-runners both have a long history of benefiting from and fostering corruption.

While it is easy to become frustrated with the corruption that daily has a negative impact on us, this verse clearly reminds me that politics isn’t the answer.

Corruption is simply the symptom.  The illness is not knowing Yahweh.

healed waters

כֹּֽה־אָמַ֣ר יְהוָ֗ה רִפִּ֨אתִי֙ לַמַּ֣יִם הָאֵ֔לֶּה 

“… Thus says YHWH, ‘I have healed these waters’. …” (2 Kings 2.21)  This little snippet is so rich. The city, Jericho, was “well-situated” but the water brought death and the land would not produce food. Do you know the back story? Joshua had cursed the place. After the walls of Jericho collapsed and the city was destroyed, Joshua cursed it.  If any would rebuild the city, it would cost him his firstborn and his youngest son (Joshua 6.26).  Later, this is exactly what happened (see 1 Kings 16.34).  Apparently, this curse also affected the land itself with its springs.

(Note:  Many bibles translate this verse as “I have purified the water,” which was also certainly the case.  But the verb used is R-F-‘, which is the primary word in hebrew for the healing of something sick.)

So we see clearly that curses have power. But curses do not have the last word. Blessings have more power than curses. This particular curse had been effective for generations – perhaps 500–600 years or so from the time of the curse to the time of the city’s rebuilding, and then another generation until this story begins.  But now someone had a hope for something different. So folks from the city sought out God by seeking out his prophet Elisha. And the curse on land and water was broken. “Until this day,” the writer testifies, “that water remains pure,” it “remains healed” (2 Kings 2.22).  That was true when 1 & 2 Kings was written. But now, thousands of years (thousands!) after the healing of the water, even today the water in that corner of Israel is good.  Read 2 Kings  2.19–22 for the whole story.

Blessings have more power than curses. God is the Healer who holds healing and purification in his hands. There are many curses – spoken curses, curses through witchcraft, ancestral curses, spiritual strongholds of bondage, addictions, corruption of all sorts, deliberate partnerships with sin, curses received along with abuse. Those curses have not been without their hurtful impact. But blessings have more power than curses. Curses can be broken and nullified, replaced with blessing and healing.  

Blessings have more power.

When humans were kind …

Our four oldest are part of a Kenyan homeschool co-op choir called Anthem.  They’re pretty good.  Last February, Athem performed at the Safaricom House in Nairobi as part of the city-wide “Cultural Stopovers” events.  I’ve posted pictures and video for their part of the concert here.

Recently Fezi (their teacher / choir director) divided them into groups and had each group write a song together.  Alitzah, Hannah Gail, and Eliana were in a group with three others.  The lyrics of their song are profound due to a spelling mistake.  Here are the lyrics.

Once in the sky all nations were loved
Hate was not known; all were beloved
Up in the sky flew some white doves
There was no evil anywhere
All creatures were kind including the heir
And God walked among us even when we were bare

They meant “all creatures were kind including the hare.”  But while that works for the rhyme scheme, it’s a bit weak poetically – bunnies, whether rabbits or hares, are generally considered to be among the kinder of animals, even though in some folklore they can be quit the tricksters.  So saying that before sin entered the world even bunnies were kind is not quite the striking statement as saying that “even the cobra” or “even the hyena” was kind.

But in context, who is the heir?  Adam & Eve – and therefore by extension all humanity.  Look around, and you will see an overabundance of evidence of unkindness and cruelty within human hearts and from human hands and words.  But as written (though not as meant) these lyrics become theologically poignant:  Once upon a time, there was no evil … and even humans were kind.

So an orthographical error changed slightly awkward lyrics into a profound poem.  Awesome.

Welcoming the Hyena

Here is, in english, an example of the types of parables we use in our teaching.  This one has two versions, one to be told to men and boys and another to be told to women and girls.  It was written specifically for the context of Maasai culture, but would be understood throughout East African cultures.

(Cultural note:  The “club” referred to is a war club, known in Maa as an orinka and in kiSwahili as a rungu.  Maasai shepherds and warriors are like the Benjaminites of Judges 20.16 and are said “not to miss.”  They often throw them at hyenas to protect their flocks and herds.)

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As told to the guys

Once there was a hyena which decided it was easier to catch baby goats and baby sheep than to chase the stronger and faster wild animals.  It caused a lot of problems by eating from the flocks!  The shepherds would always chase it away just by throwing a club at it and it would flee.  But it kept sneaking back to eat the young animals that would stray into the bush.  So some warriors decided to chase it in order to kill it with their spears.

The hyena was terrified of the warriors!  Because most of the people were not in the villages at that time, the hyena ran into a village to hide.  There was an honored old man, sitting under a tree beside his house!  The hyena asked him to let him hide in his house.  The old man refused.  But the hyena begged him, promising that he would bring him meat if he hid him and protected him from the warriors and shepherds.  Now that man liked to eat meat.  He said to himself that “it would be nice to eat meat without killing one of my own goats!”  So he told the hyena to go inside the house to hide, as his wife was in the bush gathering firewood.  When those tracking the hyena came to his village, they asked that man whether he had seen the hyena.  He was thinking about the meat the hyena had promised to bring, so he lied and said that he had not seen it.  So those people left.

Then that man went into the house to tell the hyena that it was safe for him to come out and go on its way.  But the hyena said, “I am hungry and am craving meat.  So I will eat your leg!”  And that is just what the hyena did.

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As told to the ladies

Once there was a hyena which decided it was easier to catch baby goats and baby sheep than to chase the stronger and faster wild animals.  It caused a lot of problems by eating from the flocks!  The shepherds would always chase it away just by throwing a club at it and it would flee.  But it kept sneaking back to eat the young animals that would stray into the bush.  So some warriors decided to chase it in order to kill it with their spears.

The hyena was terrified of the warriors!  Because most of the people were not in the villages at that time, the hyena ran into a village to hide.  There was a woman, repairing the roof of her house!  The hyena asked her to let him hide in her house.  The woman refused.  But the hyena begged her, promising that he would bring her some meat if she hid him and protected him from the warriors and shepherds.  That woman said to herself that “my husband would praise me if I give him meat without decreasing the numbers of his flock!”  So she told the hyena to enter the house to hide.  When those tracking the hyena came to her village, they asked that woman whether she had seen the hyena.  She was thinking about the meat which the hyena had promised to bring, so she lied and said that she had not seen it.  So those people left.

Then that woman went into the house to tell the hyena that it was safe for him to come out and go on its way.  But the hyena said, “I am hungry and am craving meat.  So I will eat your leg!”  And that is just what the hyena did.

Phases of Ministry: Planting, Parenting, Partnering

There are different phases of ministry.  Missionary pioneers begin with the Planting phase:  proclaiming the gospel, making disciples, and planting new churches.  In the late 1970s, CMF was kicked out of Ethiopia by the new communist dictatorship.  Some of the CMF-Ethiopia team came to Kenya, starting pioneering church planting work among the unreached Maasai and Turkana.  When we affiliated with CMF in 2003, the ministry had reached the Parenting phase.  As a result of CMF’s work, today there are strong churches in both Kenya and Ethiopia.

Moreover, our team is blessed to have entered the Partnering phase of ministry with the Community Christian Churches of Kenya.  At the end of 2015, there were 201 congregations.  As of this writing (April 2016), there are at least three new church plants for a total of 204.

Check out this short and exciting video, in which our teammate Joe Cluff explains what’s going on:

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