I am primarily an evangelist and teacher who travels around the world in apostolic ministry as God leads and enables me. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, I mentor our key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures, just as they continue to mentor me. I am relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach Good News to the poor,
He has sent Me to proclaim freedom
for the prisoners...to release the oppressed;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Dear Ministry Partners,
In my last email, I reported on the “Physical and Spiritual Winds” that are blowing in northern Kenya. My report focused on some of the “new directions” of our longtime partnership with Stakwell & Francesca Yurenimo in Kenya among the various pastoral tribal groups in that area.
In this report I am shifting focus to Bishop Trevor Manhanga and his ever-growing ministry in Zimbabwe – especially through “Double Harvest Zimbabwe.” The logo at left reflects the primary areas of practical vocational application of the Gospel through their holistic approach to ministry. The brick foundation represents the unique Hydraform system of brick making that we have introduced, which will be the subject of a future report. The chicken represents the poultry project, while the plants highlight the farm and greenhouses for vegetable production. Together these three areas of emphasis are generating jobs, income, self-sufficiency and dignity in the Name of Christ. And through this historic pioneer partnership between Bishop Trevor’s church and the local prison system, a literal “double harvest” is taking place, as individual lives are being transformed for time and eternity. In previous reports I have shared about this unique partnership in a 3-part series titled “Doubling Your Harvest.”
After just several months of implementation, these 20 inmates have become our soul-mates in Christ! And all of this was in fulfillment of the promises Jesus made as He began His public ministry to “…preach Good News to the poor” and “…proclaim freedom for the prisoners.” (Please click here to review these earlier reports).
After my last trip to Zimbabwe with Arie VanWingerden, we helped Bishop Trevor jumpstart this Double Harvest project by helping lay out the drip irrigation fields and build a supporting greenhouse. On this visit, we essentially helped double the size of the farm, as you will see below.
But most of all, Arie and I got to meet and fellowship personally with our new soul-mates in Christ – both at church and out in the fields. Since we arrived on a Saturday, we had the joy of worshipping with them at Victory Tabernacle on Sunday morning.
As I often share with my American friends, you have not really been to church or worshipped until you have done so with our African brethren! They worship God with total abandon!
Bishop Trevor is one of the most anointed, authoritative and animated preachers you can ever hear! It is an honor to sit under his teaching and preaching.
We were especially blessed to have the “Soul-Mate Choir” sing for us – each of whom have become Christians and have been baptized as a result of this work-release program. This is “double harvest” at its best, as the spiritual and physical walk hand-in-hand through the ministry of reconciliation and restoration.
After the service, each prisoner was given a Solar Bible
translated in their mother tongue of Shona.
A totally unexpected “sovereign serendipity” in the service was to see Baba (“father”) Bwatcha – one of our earliest partners in Zimbabwe. We built our very first church for him back in the early 1980s. Little did either of us realize then that this would be the first of scores of churches God would enable us to fund in Africa and other countries through our American partners. Baba is now 92 and semi-retired. Seeing him in the service, Bishop Trevor called him up to share a few words.
After the service he showed me a prayer calendar he carries in his Bible dating back to 1997 – which he uses as a reminder to pray for Patt and me regularly. Talk about being humbled to tears of joy! This is one of the “double blessings” of partnership!
It was a special personal joy for me to preach the morning message. Because of the growing racial tensions in America, as well as the political unrest in Zimbabwe, the Lord impressed on me to preach on “The Ministry of Reconciliation” from II Corinthians 5:11 – 6:10. After a break from preaching due to my radiation treatment, it was good to be “back in the saddle again.” Thanks for your prayers that God has used to give me fresh physical and spiritual strength for the ministry of His Word.
After the service when we walked outside, we saw the farm truck loaded with beautiful bags of tomatoes, ready for sell to the local people.
On Monday morning we had the joy of meeting with the "soul-mates" for their devotional time that begins each day – a nourishing combination of tea, bread and the “…milk of the Word” (I Pet. 2:2). Bishop Trevor leads the devotions when he is in town, and one of his staff members leads when he is away. This brief morning devotional lays the spiritual foundation for the rest of the day, so there can truly be a “double harvest” throughout the day of both spiritual and physical fruit. Please click on the picture below titled "Zimbabwe Prison Ministry" to be blessed by the spirited singing of the soul-mates, and the anointed teaching of Bishop Trevor.
After lively singing, worship and Biblical exhortation, they had their morning tea and bread – much more appetizing and nourishing than the usual prison porridge!
Bishop Trevor and his staff then distributed new Double Harvest T-Shirts and hats to each of the inmates. The front of the T-shirts had the Double Harvest logo, while the back had this verse in Shona: “If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Another part of the “double harvest” of this distribution of T-shirts and hats to the workers is that they were made and embroidered by one of Bishop Trevor’s church members who owns and operates a sewing company. So the order was a “double blessing” for him and for the workers.
While this might not seem like a big deal to us, who have more T-shirts than we can wear, it was a gift of dignity to these men. Now, in addition to the work uniforms we bought earlier, each man got 2 new T-shirts and a hat – such a contrast to their old, used and worn prison garb! We shared with them that this was like what Paul said: “You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:9-10). You could see their sense of pride and self-esteem through their big smiles as they put on their shirts before going to the field to work.
After morning devotions, new T-shirts, tea & bread,
with fresh tomatoes from the field, they are ready
to go to work on the farm.
Our first day at the farm began with a quick survey of what had taken place since our last visit. Arie and I were incredibly impressed by all the progress that had been made in the greenhouse and fields. Everything was well organized and “clean and green”.
Because the first half of the farm was full and fruitful, the main priority for us on this visit was to install a new water system that would double the size of the farm. So we bought two new large water tanks to mirror the other side of the farm with an identical water system.
After the water tank was completed, it was time to run the new fields with drip irrigation in preparation for planting vegetable seedlings.
Following a hot morning in the fields, it was time for lunch with the "Soul-Mates."
In Zimbabwe, the foundation of every meal is sudza, just as rice is the foundation of every meal in Asia. It is made from corn meal, and the only way I can describe it is the taste of “heavy grits!” It is eaten by hand with some kind of greens – and some meat if you are lucky. Since they seldom get meat in the prison, our soul mates are served beef, chicken or fish with every noon meal.
One of the soul mates had a birthday that day, and a cake was brought in to celebrate – which was a total surprise to him. Most of these men have never had a birthday celebration with cake in their lives before now. It is a great witness of God’s agape love for them. For this brief time around the noon meal, each inmate is celebrated as a person whom God loved, created in His image, redeemed through Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It was an unforgettable experience for this dear brother and for us as Bishop Trevor honored him…prayed for him…lit a candle…cut the cake…and sang ‘Happy Birthday” to him!
This is what partnership is all about. It just doesn't get any better than this!
After lunch, it was time to return to the fields for harvesting the vegetables that were ready – cabbage and tomatoes.
The truck we bought for the farm is a great help at harvest time.
To expedite harvesting vegetables, such as these tomatoes, we bought several
wheelbarrows that can be pushed up and down the rows.
Because of an abundance of ripe tomatoes, I bought a blender to be used to
make tomato paste for cooking. The women loved using the blender, just like
I do when I have too many tomatoes in my garden.
Due to the large amounts of vegetables that are being produced daily, we are helping Bishop Trevor build a cold storage building for storing them before they go to market. He was able to buy a good refrigerator unit from a white farmer who was going out of business. Trevor’s brother, Doug, is building this large unit for the project since he is a master builder, welder and innovator who can adapt to the ever-changing dynamics in Zimbabwe under the current volatile economy. We hope the building will be completed in the next 30 days, but since there is a shortage of steel it make a bit longer. The walls will be built from the Hydraform bricks that are produced on location.
Thanks so much for taking this spiritual and physical “farming tour” to Zimbabwe with Arie and me. I hope it has given you a fresh insight into why I am so thankful for this growing partnership with Bishop Trevor. We could never have imagined back in the early 1980s - when God first networked our lives together – what he had in store for us in the decades since then. It was obvious when I first met Trevor when he was in Bible College in Harare where I was speaking, that he was a natural leader with a supernatural anointing! The impact of his life and leadership in Africa, Canada, America – and everywhere God has led him, has been a testimony of God’s sovereign grace. Whether he is speaking to President Mugabe…the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe…top political and businessmen…his local congregation…or to prison inmates – he is the same.
Wherever he is, Bishop Trevor takes time to acknowledge, honor and encourage everyone he is with – like this prison guard who comes every day and works alongside the inmates. While Trevor is a well-known bishop himself who is over more than 300 churches in Zimbabwe, he is still “humbly bold” in all of his relationships and always “…gives honor where honor is due” (Rom. 13:7).
In future reports, I will continue to update you about this exciting holistic partnership that is having such an impact in Zimbabwe. His country has gone through unspeakable hardship as a result of poor governance. The people have suffered through an economic holocaust that is unparalleled, with the highest inflation rate in history. And yet, unlike other African countries, Zimbabwe has remained largely safe. The Zimbabwean people are just not a violent people who are prone to rioting, demonstration, revolution and jihad. They are peaceful, graceful and ever hopeful for a better tomorrow.
The undauntable spirit of the Zimbabwean people is evident in their popular response in the face of any and every difficulty: “We’ll make a way.” And that way is seldom ever through violence and bloodshed. They go to their knees in prayer rather than go to the streets in protest.
So Patt and I encourage you to continue to pray for our partners in Zimbabwe. And if your church group is looking for a wonderful mission trip opportunity, we encourage you to prayerfully consider Zimbabwe. We can help you with the contacts and details from start to finish. Since President Mugabe is 92 and in failing health, Zimbabwe is on the cusp of a great new burst of political and economic restoration – which is already being experienced in the churches. Don’t miss being a proactive part of what God is doing there through your prayers and partnership!
In His love for Zimbabwe,
“The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where
it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Dear Ministry Partners,
By God’s grace, I made it back home safe and sound this past weekend from my past two weeks in Africa. After a long 16-hour flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta to RDU, it was wonderful to be back with Patt again after my first international trip since completing the 40 radiation treatments. On this “trial trip,” I was first in Kenya for a week, then in Zimbabwe for the same. In each country we had special times of fellowship with our key partners.
My last email from Africa shared briefly about my time with our beloved Samburu partners, Stakwell & Francesca Yurenimo. Through their ministries, the winds of God’s Spirit have been blowing over the lands of the Samburu and Turkana tribes for over a decade. Before they began their ministry in the area that is their homeland, there had been much tribal fighting. That’s because most of the tribal groups in that area of northern Kenya are nomadic pastoralists.
These proud and colorful people live by their cattle. Wealth is determined by the number of hooves in the herd – not by money in the bank. Their “mobile money” is in their animals – that are often cared for more than people.
These pastoral people move around in search of water and grazing lands for their cows, camels and goats. Sadly, there are almost always too many animals and not enough water and grass. As a result, there is constant fighting over “grazing rights” – just like in much of the old American West. This is especially true during times of drought, which is most of the time in this arid, desert, savannah region. And rival tribal members are often killed or wounded in these regular cattle raids. From earliest times until now, there has been a special hostility between the Samburu and Turkana tribes.
It was in this volatile and tense cultural context that Stakwell felt called of the Lord to start a Sports Camp. Since God had used sports to bring him to faith in Christ, he wanted to establish a camp where young people from all of the diverse tribes of this region could come together, compete, and have fellowship in a safe atmosphere of Christian love. It was our joy to partner with him in the building and development of this “Samburu Sports Camp” – literally carved out over time from the “African bush.”
A retired American businessman named Bud Chittenden, along with his wife, Maribell, (pictured above with Stakwell) had traveled with me to Kenya on a previous trip. After this life-changing "Kingdom Adventure" that they never intended to make, they returned home with the Samburu people in their hearts – and especially, Stakwell, whom Bud “adopted” as his “Samburu son,” sponsoring him through Bible College. Upon his return home from his first trip Bud said: “I left my heart in Kurungu among the Samburu tribe!”
As a retired engineer, Bud was God’s sovereign choice to return to Kenya and supervise the first buildings at the Sports Camp – beginning with a small house for Stakwell. Across the years he made many trips to Kenya and asked that when he died that his ashes would literally be buried at the Sports Camp.
Stakwell at Bud's grave.
In the early years of the Sports Camp and ministry, Stakwell was a single young man. We all prayed for the right Christian wife for him who would also have a heart for the local people and commitment to continue to live in the rural African bush. In the fullness of God’s time, he brought a wonderful young woman into his life who was a Rendille – a sister tribe to the Samburu. It was a joy for Patt and me to help conduct their wedding, which was a beautiful balance of Samburu culture within a Christian context.
As a schoolteacher, Francesca was the perfect partner for Stakwell in the growing ministry to the Samburu people of northern Kenya. Together they continued to develop the Sports Camp and ever-growing ministry to children and teenagers. The theme for their Camp was “Unity Through Sports.”
THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT BLOWS THROUGH SPORTS…
For over a decade, the Camp became a place of fierce competition between these tribal groups – but with soccer balls, basketballs and volleyballs rather than spears and guns! Through the annual sports events that we were privileged to sponsor, Stakwell developed the reputation as a peace-making leader. And year after year, the wind of God’s Spirit blew across the Camp and all of the Sports events to the degree that there was never a serious hostile incident between the competitors.
Scores of teams from all over northern Kenya came to the Camp, and “played their hearts out” for the trophy. During the day there would be continuous sports competition. In the evenings there would be evangelistic films and Gospel presentations. As a result of the sovereign winds that blew among them, many were “…born of the Spirit.”And it was my privilege to travel annually to the Sports Camp to assist Stakwell in his ministry to these tribal young people who were ripe for evangelism.
In addition to the regular sports events, the Camp was also used for VBS programs for children, conferences for the unreached Morans, or warriors, as well as conferences for women and elders. In the process, hundreds of Christians from churches in America traveled with us to the Camp to participate in these events, and were forever changed through friendships built with Stakwell, Francesca, the Camp Staff and the local Samburu people.
THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT BLOWS AMONG CHILDREN…
In most underdeveloped countries, there is no such thing as “adolesence” as we know it in America. There is not this prolonged period between childhood and adulthood where kids are free from responsibility. There is a direct path from childhood to adulthood. So from a very early age, children are assigned the responsibilities of adulthood. And in these pastoral societies, they tend the animals from dawn to dust. In addition, they care for younger brothers and sisters – children taking care of children. Many never have the opportunity to go to formal school. So one of the priorities of the Sports Camp is to provide safe opportunities for play and learning. Because Francesca is a teacher, her role has been especially crucial in this ministry to children.
THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT BLOWS AMONG THE WARRIORS…
Historically, one of the most unreached and unresponsive groups of people among the Samburu are the Morans, meaning Warriors. From about the ages of 12-15 after circumcision, they become a separate social group whose primary responsibility is to protect the cattle and the tribe. This loud singing…hard dancing…high jumping group of young men represent one of the most colorful cultural groups among the Samburu. They are committed unto death to each other, and are closed to outsiders.
But because Stakwell was a Moran, when the Sports Camp began, he was uniquely prepared to be God’s instrument for reaching this proud Warrior class. Once or twice a year we would partner with him to sponsor a goat roast and dances – after which we would share the Gospel. Over the years, a number of these Morans became Christians and moved into the next cultural division of Junior Elders as Christians and church leaders. Each Moran class lasts about 15 years. So pray for Stakwell and me as we reach out to younger classes of Morans.
THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT BLOWS AMONG THE WOMEN…
In most societies where there is any degree of freedom, women usually become the “first responders” to the Gospel. As a result, they began to “gossip the Gospel” to their women friends as they gather firewood, haul water, wash clothes, prepare food, and do the other never-ending roles of womanhood in pastoral societies. Sadly, women in this culture are often little more than chattel and sex objects when it comes to human rights and dignity. So ministry to the “Samburu mommas” has always been a high priority.
THE WIND OF THE SPIRIT BLOWS AMONG THE ELDERS…
If women are usually the “first responders” to the Gospel in most societies, men are usually the “last responders”. That’s because they are generally the power brokers and keepers of tradition in their cultures. Just as the Morans have distinguishing jewelry to identify themselves, the authority of the elders is known through their cap and coat. So the Gospel call to male servant-leadership is always a radical and threatening message. But because of the respect that Stakwell gained over the years among the elders, or Mzees, they also began to respond to the Gospel. With great sensitivity toward their positions, we sponsored special outreaches to them as both Junior and Senior Elders. As a result, some of these elder tribal leaders have been responsive to the Gospel. And because Stakwell’s father is very influential tribal Chief, his leadership has been essential to this breakthrough with other men.
Senior Elders (left) and Junior Elders (right).
LAKE TURKANA WIND POWER PROJECT…
In addition to the spiritual winds that were blowing in northern Kenya, there were also very strong physical winds blowing. These constant prevailing winds were so natural and normal that they were basically ignored. However, several African entrepreneurs traveling through the region took notice. Because of the Dutch background of one of the gentlemen, the idea of building windmills was discussed. But because of the extreme remote region, they knew it would be a gargantuan task that would require herculean efforts to pull off, along with huge sums of money – and the highest scientific and technological expertise. However, they were dreamers! They believed that the impossible was possible! And as a result, the "Lake Turkana Wind Power Project" (LTWP) was born.
Several of these men made trip after trip to this region to do their due diligence. They brought in expert after expert to get their input. It was a two – three day hard drive from Nairobi to Samburu and Turkana. When they got there, they had no place to stay. The winds were so fierce 24/7 that any tent they were staying in would be blown down immediately. So they ended up staying at our Sports Camp, and for the next 6 – 8 years, our Sports Camp almost always had people from the LTWP staying for days or weeks at a time. This generated jobs and much-needed income to support the Camp.
So, our Sports Camp became “Base Camp” for the LTWP. Warm friendships were forged between Stakwell and these African entrepreneurs. And they quickly saw the obvious. They desperately needed someone like Stakwell to be their liaison with all of the local people who lived in the remote villages where they wanted to put up their wind turbines. Believing that this project could bring great benefit and blessing to the people of this region, Stakwell became their ambassador.
It quickly became obvious to both Stakwell and me that God’s Spirit was sovereignly blowing through this and was doing a “new thing.” With my full blessing, we released Stakwell to this wider ministry that would impact all of northern Kenya – and ultimately all of Kenya. It was the spiritually logical next step in his life and leadership. God was using the positive reputation Stakwell had developed through the Sports Camp as a wise negotiator and peacemaker – to help make the LTWP a reality.
For Stakwell and me, this has become another fulfillment of our mighty, miracle-working God who continues to “…do exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).
What has happened in the last half-dozen years is almost incomprehensible! The motto of the LTWP is: “We will blow you away!” To that end, let me share a few facts that will literally “blow your mind” about this project…
To read more about this project, please click the National Geographic button below:
For years we would often fly into this remote region and land on this bush runway, but now there are multiple flights each week from Nairobi. And they have just finished building a small, but comfortable “airport,” replete with a lounge and toilets! In the past, a tree beside the runway was the “First Class Lounge” and a thorn bush the “Tourist Lounge!”
OLD SADAR BUSH AIR FIELD…
NEW SADAR INTERNATIONAL BUSH AIRPORT…
I hope you will take a few moments to click here to view the web site of the LTWP – and be “blown away” by what is taking place. The LTWP also has a humanitarian foundation called Winds of Change. Please click the Google button at left to be taken to their website. Through Winds of Change, millions of dollars will be invested annually in projects that will benefit the local people. Thankfully, Stakwell is a vital part of their Board of Directors. Pray for him, that God will continue to use him as His “salt” and “light” in this strategic position. We believe that he will continue to be part of these new “winds of the Spirit” that are blowing physically and spiritually in northern Kenya.
Thanks for taking this whirlwind tour with me of the Samburu Sports Camp and the Lake Turkana Wind Project. Like all of our other partnerships and projects, this one is almost two decades old. Life, leadership, marriage, ministry are never static – just like the Holy Spirit is never static. That’s why this dynamic third-member of the Trinity is portrayed in the Bible by action verbs: The Wind blows…the River flows…the Fire glows. We have certainly been experiencing this dynamic in Northern Kenya from the beginning of our partnership with Stakwell and Francesca, up until now!
All of these ministries among the pastoral tribal groups of Northern Kenya would not have been possible without your spiritual and financial partnership. Patt and I encourage you to increase your prayers for Stakwell and Francesca in response to the increased opportunities and responsibilities that are on their shoulders through their servant-leadership in the name of Christ at the Sports Camp and Wind Power Project.
Finally, Patt and I will be leading a small work team to Kenya to work alongside Stakwell and Francesca right after Thanksgiving (November 28 – December 12). If you have a heart to work, we would invite you to join us on this trip. We need carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, etc. who will help us make some much-needed upgrades and additions to the camp.
In His Love for the Pastoral Peoples of Kenya,
P.S. - Please take a moment to view the video below. Simply click on the picture for my personal interview with Stakwell, which serves to update our partners around the world on the spiritual and physical winds of the Spirit that are still blowing in Kenya among the Samburu, Turkana, and other tribal people groups.
Finally, we are making available to you once again our featured book, Spiritual Olympics, dedicated to the ministry of Stakwell and Francesca Yurenimo.
Since beginning their ministry of reconciliation among the various tribal groups through their Sports Camp, tribal fighting has dropped over 70%, and scores of young people and children have accepted Christ as their personal Savior!
As the 2016 Olympic games continue, I want to remind you that much like an athlete must train for the event he is to compete in, so we also must prepare, train and run the race for the "eternal prize." To order your copy of Spiritual Olympics for $10, please click here or on the picture at left to be redirected to our online store ... and lace up your “running shoes” to learn how you can be a winner!
“I have no greater joy than to hear
that my children are walking in the truth.”
(3 John 4)
Stakwell Yurenimo with his two oldest daughters,
Wendy and Meribell.
Dear Ministry Partners,
Loving and joyful greetings in Christ from Mutare, Zimbabwe!
I am writing this quick report on the last leg of my current two-country trip to Kenya and Zimbabwe. After a full week of travel and ministry in Kenya, I flew to Zimbabwe.
My primary focus in Kenya was with two of our partners, Stakwell Yurenimo and Philip Kabiru. In Zimbabwe, I am spending time with Bishop Trevor Manhanga first, followed with time spent with Pastor Simon Mkolo and Herbert Makwala.
I have much to report after I return home, from each partner and each project. I know you will be blessed as you see how God’s work has progressed “...from strength to strength in the Lord” during the months I have not been able to travel. So this quick email is to let you know that I am “alive and well” on this first major mission trip since my diagnosis of prostate cancer. Now that the treatments are completed, I have been freed to travel internationally once again. Thanks for helping make this first trip possible through your prayers and financial support.
Now, enjoy the fruit of your partnership through these few pictures below from my time with Stakwell and Francesca and their precious children...my beloved Samburu family.
Stakwell's wife, Francesca, and Mikileta, a camp staff
member, sort through clothes I brought in for the
workers and the children.
Sawallee and his brother, who steal everyone's hearts
at the Camp.
Because the closest fuel station is a 5-hour drive from
the Camp, a fuel pump has been installed, providing
both gasoline and diesel fuel. This practical project
generates jobs and income for the Camp.
The new, larger generator we helped purchase runs
the fuel pump and provides power for the Camp.
Francesca and several of the Camp Staff (left to right):
Mary, Emily (holding Victoria, Stakwell & Francesca's
youngest), Francesca and Mikileta.
These dear sisters have faithfully worked at the Camp
for 5-7 years each. Two of them are widows, and another
is married to an alcoholic. So, the Lord has laid on my heart
to build each of them a small house for $1,000 each in the
coming months. If anyone would like to join me, I welcome
One of the priorities for this trip was to take in 100 of the Solar Bibles in the
Samburu language, and 100 in the Turkana language. This older Mama missed
the first distribution of the Bibles over a year ago. She walks to the Camp
weekly to ask Stakwell and Francesca for one. She literally kissed Stakwell's
hand and mine when we gave her a Solar Player! Before receiving her own
player, she had been sitting with other women listening to theirs, and
could quote vast portions of Scriptures she had learned orally. The moment
she turned it on and it began with Genesis 1:1, she was repeating the words
along with the player! God bless those of you who have helped sponsor the
Solar Players of God's Word!
Hearing God's Word in your heart language, whether old or young,
will transform lives! At right, Stakwell & Francesca's youngest
daughter, Victoria, enjoyed listening to the Bible on the Solar Player.
Francesca with some of the Samburu Mamas who received
the gift of God's Word that is transforming them into
women of God.
Like her two older sisters, Victoria is
a "Daddy's girl!" We are so thankful
for the good Biblical parenting of
Stakwell and Francesca, for their
biological and adopted children.
"...for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as
these..." (Matt. 19:14)
Through the above selfie, I will close this brief report on my time of ministry in Kenya. Other reports will follow after I get back home – hopefully this weekend.
Thanks so much for praying me through this first major international trip since finishing my 40 radiation treatments. While there is still some lingering fatigue and side effects, I have been able to fulfill everything I came to do on this trip. I have so much more to share with you after my return.
P. S. Our featured book this week, Spiritual Olympics, is dedicated to the ministry of Stakwell and Francesca Yurenimo.
Since beginning their ministry of reconciliation among the various tribal groups through their Sports Camp, tribal fighting has dropped over 70%! And scores of young people and children have accepted Christ as their personal Savior!
As the 2016 Olympic games begin, I want to remind you that much like an athlete must train for the event he is to compete in, so we also must prepare, train and run the race for the "eternal prize." To order your copy of Spiritual Olympics for $10, please click here or on the picture at left to be redirected to our online store ... and lace up your “running shoes” to learn how you can be a winner!
“I urge you, brothers…by the love of the Spirit,
to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers…and that my service…
may be acceptable to the saints…”
(Rom. 15: 30-31)
Dear Ministry Partner,
When you receive this email, I will be airborne for Africa. It will be my first major international trip since completing the 40 radiation treatments for prostate cancer. While I still have some of the lingering fatigue from those treatments, I am trusting God for both the spiritual wisdom and physical strength for this trip. As all of my trips tend to be, this one will be diverse and fast moving. I will be in Kenya for the first week and Zimbabwe for the second week. Even though I will be in the “African bush” for some of the time, I still hope to be able to send a few brief reports and pictures – so be watching for those.
In addition to praying for my physical stamina, I also ask for your special prayers for my “…service to the saints” through the many items I will be taking in. As you know, I always travel as a ‘Pack Mule For Jesus’ – taking in as much as possible to meet spiritual and physical needs. That’s why the airlines hate to see me checking in! So first, pray that I will get everything on board. Then pray I will be able to get everything through the Customs in both Kenya and Zimbabwe duty free. Sadly, the airlines look for every opportunity to charge you ridiculous fees for anything and everything!
Solar Bibles, charging in the sunlight, and packed for Africa.
Pray especially for the several hundred “Solar Digital Players” with the Bible in Samburu, Turkana and Shona that I will be taking in for distribution. The devil always does all he can to stop the “sowing of the Word” through any medium – whether preaching, literature, music or “Solar Bibles.”
Finally, I am attaching an electronic copy of a brochure we sent out recently to people on our mailing list. It is a loving challenge not to take a vacation from giving during these summer months when giving tends to be down. Please click on the "Kingdom Advancing Ministry Summer 2016" brochure below for ministry opportunities, and please send in whatever gift you can to help us continue to “encourage, equip and empower” our many national partners in other countries.
Thanks for continuing to give spiritually and financially,
“Nation will rise against nation,
and kingdom against kingdom.”
Dear Ministry Partner,
It seems like 2016 is becoming a rerun of 1968 – the height of the Civil Rights Era. The old expression seems to be true that says: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” That’s why many of us feel we are reliving the years of 1965 through 1968.
Much of our younger generation does not remember that it was the year 1968 that President Johnson signed the historic “Civil Rights Act” into law – also known as the “Fair Housing Act”. That watershed law prohibited any form of discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing based on religion, national origin or race. This Act is widely considered by many as the final great legislative achievement of the “Civil Rights Era” (1954 – 1968).
It was also in 1968, on April 4th, that James Earl Ray assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis. His death in many ways led to a fragmentation and dissolution of the Civil Rights Movement. Since Dr. King’s death, the Civil Rights Movement has not produced another single leader with his unifying ability for African Americans. He was a unique leader with a unique message at a unique time in American history.
Ironically, Patt and I also look back to 1968 as the official founding of our ministry,“The New Directions.” As an interdenominational, interracial contemporary ministry group, we used music to “take it to the streets” as a positive demonstration of racial reconciliation in Christ. For the next dozen or more years, we made “loving invasions” into every bastion of segregation, prejudice and racism in the South and North. We called our events an “Action Experience in Christian Love.” For most people, it was a totally “new direction” in ministry. (Please click here to view other photos from our archives).
As God built us into an authentic covenant family through the reconciling love of the Lord Jesus, it spread to others. In heart after heart…home after home…marriage after marriage…family after family…church after church…community after community – we saw the “…dividing walls of hostility” fall that had been segregating people from God and from each other (Eph. 2:14).
Since those defining years of desegregation, a new generation of Americans – both Blacks and Whites – have grown up with little or no personal experience of the Civil Rights Era. For many of them, it is abstract ancient history. But the new generation of “X’ers” and “millennials” are painfully learning what our generation learned: while you can and should pass legislation against discrimination, you cannot legislate a change of heart. It was one thing for America to pass legislation abolishing the Jim Crow Laws that had mandated racial segregation in all public facilities. It was another issue to eradicate Jim Crow sentiments from the heart.
During the Civil Rights Movement, music was used to fan the flames of social change. The “protest music” of folk singers and rock musicians became the prophetic voice to many in that generation, that radical change had to take place. As one song said: “The times they are a-changing!”
But, millions found that while the “…answer was blowing in the wind,” those winds did not always change people’s hearts. During those earlier days of ministry when I spoke on reconciliation, I would often quote the rather humorous words of a popular folk song that said:
“…the whole world is festering with unhappy souls –
the French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles;
Italians hate the Yugaslovs; South Africans hate the Dutch –
And I don’t like anybody very much!
The chorus concluded:
“They’re rioting in Africa, there is strive in Iran;
what nature does not do to us – will be done by our fellow man!”
It’s amazing how relevant those words are – almost a half-century later! It seems that reconciliation, like many other things, seldom lasts more than one generation.
NATIONAL HEART DISEASE...
Human history proves that laws about justice and equality are needed to regulate sinful behavior. Virtually every country has been guilty of some form of legal Apartheid by one race against another. Often it is the minority against the majority. Whichever group has the most power rules – or “might equals right.”
Apartheid is a disease of every human heart. We naturally want to differentiate, discriminate, segregate and dominate. It takes something supernatural – conversion, to cause people to repent of the apartheid in their hearts. Only a radical spiritual transformation can bring about permanent racial reconciliation.
Therefore, until beliefs are changed, behavioral modification will only be superficial and temporary – regardless of what our laws say. Until God’s laws of love are written on our hearts, no lasting change can take place in our homes or in our streets. Unless the heart is truly changed – nothing else will permanently change. Only God can change the human heart.
One of the things we personally learned during those early days of the Civil Rights Movement was that all of us are prejudiced to one degree or another. By virtue of the “original sin,” we all inherited prejudice through our common human father, Adam – prejudice against other humans because of our innate sin and selfishness. Every baby is born with a selfish, self-seeking nature. A baby always wants its way in everything. That’s why King David reflected: “Surely I was sinful at birth” (Ps. 51:5).
To one degree or another, all of us are like Cain who killed his brother, Abel. The Biblical record of that first murder is succinct: “Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Gen. 4:8). That description is as current as our recent news reports about policemen killing blacks and blacks killing policemen. Like Cain, some kill their brothers in the streets with stones or bullets. Others do so with angry words of hatred. Still others do it quietly in the secret recesses of their heart as they muse over how they believe themselves to be superior to those of other races. But, personal and relational death still occurs in every situation.
In addition to having pride and prejudice through birth, we all have residual racism by culture, conditioning and choice. None of us is totally “color-blind.” We all have overt or covert prejudice against others – racially, sexually and socially. And we often use economics to reinforce those prejudices and “keep people in their place.” We use our economic superiority to segregate ourselves in gated communities with expensive walls of prejudice that buffer “us” from “them.”
So our message today is the same as it was back in 1968: Racism is not a skin problem…but a sin problem!
THE UNIVERSALITY OF RACISM…
Because sin is universal – racism is universal. This irrefutable historic and cultural fact is seen in the innate tribalism of Africa…casteism of India…oligarchy of Europe…and current renewed racism in America. It is because of this systemic sinful racism in the heart of every human, that history has experienced regular bloody manifestations of racial war, ethnic cleansing, tribal genocide, Nazi death camps and Russian gulags. It is that same racial sin that is causing a rebirth and resurgence in America of hate groups like the Black Panthers and White Supremacists.
In previous centuries, the sin of racial superiority was almost globally manifest through the subjugation in colonialism – which often put a cloak of “civilization” over their racism. But, sadly, that same racist spirit has continued in many of these same countries just as viciously through many forms of nationalism. These homegrown movements of nationalism often became little more than the legalization of selfish and savage dictatorships who were worse than what the colonialists imposed on their own people – especially those of other tribes or religions.
According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees), there are some 60 million displaced people in the world today. The vast majority of them have been reduced to refugee status due to various forms of hostile racism, tribalism, genocide, ethnic cleansing or religious imperialism.
And ever since the horrific events of 9/11, America and the free world have been engaged in the “War on Islamic Terrorism.” From then till now, the world has witnessed the proliferation of Muslim radicals and jihadists who have a zero tolerance of anything and everything not Islamic. They continue to seek to impose their form of religious racism on the non-Muslim world through the forceful imposition of Sharia law.
I could go on and on with many more examples because I am personally familiar with them through our partnerships with strategic national leaders. Many face degrees of religious, political and economic racism, simply because they are followers of Jesus Christ. Christians across the globe are increasingly being singled out as the special target of prejudice and persecution.
In America, the same prejudice and discrimination is increasingly happening from kindergartens…to universities…to law schools…to the IRS…to the White House…to the Supreme Court. Having rebelled against the Judeo-Christian foundations of our country, the “elitist” liberal leftists seek to legally impose their mentality on all of society – especially Christians. Sadly, they have convinced and co-opted many Black Americans into equating the old Jim Crow Laws with any and every form of prejudice against homosexuality, bisexuality and gay marriage. In reality, their political and social agenda is really anti-Christian…anti-life…anti-marriage…anti-family…anti-responsibility – and anti-Black. And as we are seeing almost daily in the news, many of them have increasingly become anti-law and order through their anarchist mentality and methodology.
In all probability, all of this new birth of racism in America will only be intensified by the upcoming Republican and Democratic Conventions and ensuing campaigns, where the presumptive nominees and their political supporters will each blame the other for playing the “race card” to their advantage.
BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER…
This reminds us afresh of the accuracy of the Lord’s prophecy over two thousand years ago in His Olivet Discourse. In that teaching, Jesus gave a number of “signs of the times” to His disciples before He died on the cross. His crucifixion was history’s most supreme act of spiritual prejudice by sinful man against a Holy God! And yet God transmuted it into salvation for the world.
But, just as Jesus accurately predicted, there has been a steady increase in the intensity of “…nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”
As you know, when Jesus used the word “nation,” He was not talking about geo-political nations as our maps have portrayed. The word in the original is the word ethnos, from which we get the word “ethnic.” It means a group of people who are united by a common kinship, culture, or tradition. While their “kingdom” may have certain recognized geographical boundaries, it is their ethnicity that really holds them together more than their geography. Since many of these groups are nomadic and mobile, their geographical location may shift from time to time – but not their ethnicity.
Anywhere you travel in America or the world, you will soon come face-to-face with overt or covert forms of racial prejudice. You will find volatile situations of racial and ethnic tensions – just waiting for the right incident to set off conflict and violence. And not surprisingly, much of the world’s racism is religiously motivated. That’s why only spiritual transformation can lead to authentic social transformation.
It was that kind of radical spiritual transformation that happened to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road when he met the risen Christ. Before that encounter, Saul was a caustic, bigoted “true-blue-Jew-through-and-through.” He was motivated by spiritual, racial and cultural pride and arrogance (Phil. 3:3-6)! Like so many of us, Saul’s world was neatly segregated between “us” and “them.”
But, God temporarily blinded him in order to make him see. He was blinded by light – the light of God’s revelation through Jesus Christ! In the process, he temporarily lost his sight – but gained new insight that forever changed him spiritually, racially, socially and culturally. As a result, he later wrote:
“From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come” (II Cor. 5:16-17).
So, it was only spiritual conversion that radically caused Saul to no longer see people from a human perspective – or from a “…worldly point of view.” And the one thing that killed the apartheid in his life was to see who Jesus really was – God’s Messiah and Savior of the world. Before then, Saul had seen Jesus through the blinded eyes of spiritual pride and prejudice. To him, Jesus was nothing more than a deceived Jewish fanatic with a messianic complex: Jesus’ blasphemy in claiming to be God incarnate got Him just what He deserved – crucifixion as an imposter! That was the “…worldly point of view” that Saul had of Jesus until He met the real Person on the Damascus Road. But, when Saul saw and heard the resurrected Christ, he cried out “Lord!” That spiritual insight into the nature of Christ forever changed his sight of every human as a potential “…new creation” in Christ Jesus. Forever thereafter, Saul saw people through the eyes of Christ.
It was only when Saul had a correct view of Christ that he could have a correct view of other people. Paul’s conversion reminds us that it is impossible to have a right view of man when we have a wrong view of Christ!
His conversion was so radical that his name was changed from “Saul” to “Paul.” Because of his Damascus Road experience, Paul became a champion of equal rights for all people – especially Gentiles whom he had formerly hated. Overnight he changed from being a “Gentile hater” to a “Gentile lover.” Why? Because “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…” And for Paul, that “anyone” included everyone!
It was that spiritual transformation that turned the Roman world, of institutionalized racism for a privileged few, upside-down. It also brought down the “…dividing wall of hostility” erected by the Jews through their sense of religious superiority. Salvation was not for a privileged few. It was available to everyone.
That’s why Paul lovingly and boldly proclaimed the revolutionary message of transformation that could only take place through the Gospel. While racial and social barriers existed in the world, Paul said that in the church “…there is neither Jew nor Greek, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian or Scythian, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).
That message of racial, social, sexual and economic reconciliation through spiritual reconciliation is still the ONLY solution to our new American divisions. Love is still the only lasting antidote to hate.
These next few months leading up to the Presidential election in November will give fresh opportunities for Christians to be God’s “salt”, stopping corruption, and His “light”, penetrating darkness.
Back in 1968, we realized that you do not gradually “drift” out of racism into reconciliation. It only happens with positive, proactive intentionality – beginning with a radical “change of heart.” When your heart changes, your will can resolve to change. Then and only then will we have the desire and will to be the “…ministers of reconciliation” that God called us to as His disciples. Both inside and outside God’s embassy called the church, we are to be “…Christ’s ambassadors.” It is through us that God is making His appeal: “Be reconciled to God” and be “reconciled to man” (II Cor. 5:20).
When we cease that “…ministry of reconciliation,” we are guilty of “…receiving God’s grace in vain” (II Cor. 6:1). That means that we are living as if Jesus never died to reconcile us to God, or reconcile us to others.
Saints, it is time for us to step into these growing gaps of alienation with the kind of words and deeds of reconciliation that will result in renewed racial and social changes for God’s glory and the good of others. These new expressions of social hostility only testify to the spiritual separation from God and His love that is generating all of this alienation of “…brother against brother.”
Let’s step into the gap of alienation with the reconciliation of agape love! It’s our only hope as a country. Politics cannot bridge these gaps – but the cross can!
In His Reconciling love,