Sunday, February 3, 2013

One week in...

I have made it through my first full week in Kitale.  And I wouldn't say that I just survived, but rather thrived!

While the week was good, I do find myself wondering about the irony of where God has me right now.  When we moved to Liberia, Bob struggled significantly with the incessant heat and humidity.  He longed to live in a place in Africa that was cooler.  When we talked to our children initially about moving to Africa, one of their first questions was what kind of animals will be there?  There were no animals of note in Liberia.  And now I'm living in a place where the temperature seems about perfect.  Cool in the night, warm in the day.  Yesterday, as I drove to town, I passed a group of vervet monkeys, cows, donkeys, and goats.  Last weekend I saw a lot more animals than that, within close driving distance.  And the natural beauty of this place is amazing.  Why God now has me in a place that would be perfect for my family, and yet I am here alone, is a question I will probably have to wait on the answer to until I get to heaven. But I am at peace, just smiling and wondering at the irony of the situation. 

One of the pastors from my class.
I started teaching my class this past Thursday.  There are twelve students, almost all of whom are pastors; eleven men and one woman.  The first day was a revelation, as I presented a concept that was new to all of them - the idea of Marketplace Ministry and Business as a Mission.  I came to understand that they had no idea what this class was going to be about...and hoped that at a minimum they would learn how to be better at running their own personal business so that they could support themselves as pastors. 

The church where I worshiped on Sunday - a rural church in Kitalale.

At the end of the first day, I could see that light-bulbs had gone on for several students.  The next day, several more.  The highlight in the week for me was the first journal presentation on the second day of class.  I asked each person to keep a journal - a record of their thoughts as it relates to the class, our discussions, their readings - an attempt for them to get in touch with what the Holy Spirit is doing in and through them in this class.  While they struggled a bit with keeping a journal (wondering if it was supposed to be a daily reaction paper :-), I was so encouraged by the first person who shared from his heart.  One of the things that he shared was that he had never considered Christian business people as called and anointed by God.  He had always looked down on the marketplace and looked down on business people as less holy.  He said that he was feeling convicted that one of the first steps was to confess and ask for forgiveness from the business people in his church, and then figure out how to partner with them, as pulpit pastors and marketplace ministers.  Amen!!  That was what I was hoping to hear and didn't expect to hear it the second day already!  The books that I brought for the library, to be used by future classes, this class wants to buy because they say it is important for their ministry to have these books in their own library!  I'm very thankful to God for this and look forward to what He will continue to do in and through these pastors as they reconsider their flock and the role of the church in the world.

Some other quotes from the pastors so far in terms of what the Holy Spirit has been doing in their hearts are:
  • "This class has revolutionized my way of thinking and my approach to my ministry.  Every pastor should take this class!"
  • "Pastors only have access to congregants 52 days out of the year; while Marketplace Ministers are on the work site 313 days out of the year."
  • "The marketplace is a combination of the business, government, and education, and we have been focused on discipling individuals, rather than discipling nations (as we are called to do in the Great Commission)."  This pastor shared that we must obey this command and that we are equipped to do so, because God has called us to it!
  • "The gap between the rich and the poor can be exacerbated by both sides...and pastors tend to be intimidated by the rich, not recognizing their need for Christ and forgiveness as much as anyone else."
  • "People are not the problem, they are the solution!  But those in poverty do not see themselves as the solution, with the ability to be creative and produce for themselves and this world, often because of a lack of hope."
  • "The Creational Mandate, and the call to work, puts a whole new perspective on the so-called Prosperity Gospel that many are preaching.  The prosperity gospel tends to put the emphasis the exterior - that God will rain down blessings if people do a,b,c,d...the Creational Mandate instead puts the emphasis on the interior - that we each have the ability to create and to produce because God made us in His image...and He creates, works, and produces." 
  • "Church growth problem could be addressed by equipping and releasing Marketplace Ministers into the Marketplace, and partnering with them to reach many people."
And I could go on.  Many, many great debates.  It has been exciting and I have thoroughly enjoyed it! It is definitely different teaching pastors than teaching business persons, but I feel so blessed to have started this class with such a great group of pastors who are so willing to engage and examine this new area of opportunity for ministry!

On to other news:
Raila Odinga
Elections:  The Kenyan election continues to draw closer, with the date set for March 4.  There are six candidates, and of the six, there appears to be two front-runners - the current prime minister, Raila Odinga, with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), who became the Prime Minister in a coalition government after the violent post-electoral crisis in 2007.  The position of Prime Minister will be eliminated after this election.

Uhuru Kenyatta
The other front-runner is Uhuru Kenyatta, with the National Alliance Party, who is the son of Kenya's first president.  What makes him a bit of an interesting candidate is that he has been charged by the International Criminal Court of crimes against humanity following the 2007 post-election violence.  Many people with whom I have spoken believe that these are trumped up charges of a conspiratorial nature.  Lots of preparations are going on for this election, including many safety and security measures in places that were hot spots in the last election.  Surveys show that the key items facing Kenyans are lack of jobs and high cost of living, as well as insecurity, poor leadership, bad infrastructure, and lack of water.

Driving:  I have learned to drive on the wrong...I mean...left side of the road!  I still have to keep repeating, "left, left, left" while I drive, as my instinct is to naturally go on the other side.  Additionally, I keep turning on the windshield wipers instead of the signal light when I want to turn, and haven't learned yet to look over my left shoulder when reversing, instead of my right.  But I had a very good teacher who declared that I was a Kenyan on my second day of driving!  Thankfully driving a stick and driving in crazy traffic, with motorcycles and pedestrians all over, doesn't bother me, otherwise the learning curve would be very steep!