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.
It is fast approaching-that day of the year when our children go through their annual Dr. Jekyll—Mr. Hyde metamorphosis from little cherubs to spooks, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, witches and vampires!
They will excitedly attend school Halloween carnivals where they will bob for apples, fish for prizes and prowl through a “haunted house” amidst shrieks and screams of fearful delight. Later they will go from door to door “trick or treating” in their neighborhood. They will be greeted by scowling pumpkin jack-o-lanterns, scary dangling skeletons, and flying witches on brooms. They will hopefully be met by generous hosts who will fill their bags with candy, gum, cookies, popcorn and a host of other goodies that will make their next visit to the dentist a real nightmare! Yes, it’s Halloween time again!
It all seems like such harmless fun—but is it? I have had my own private war with Halloween for a number of years now. Frankly, I don’t think I’m really winning, but I will continue the fight! “But why,” you may be thinking, “do you want to deprive those little kids of all that fun and excitement? It’s all just innocent, harmless fun!”
Fun? Perhaps. Innocent? Hardly! I enjoy fun as much as the next guy, as anyone who really knows me will quickly affirm. But I also know that not all fun is “innocent fun.” A lot of people’s fun is at someone else’s expense. For other twisted minds, “fun” has an element of perversion, like putting hallucinogenic drugs in candy or razor blades in apples! So there is FUN and there is fun!
Because of the historical roots of Halloween, I cannot see it as innocent, innocuous fun. It is a basic principle of life that the origin of something determines its nature. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father. ...” (James 1:17). It also says that Satan masquerades as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). He is the master counterfeiter! That means that he makes evil look good. . .perversion look pure. . . and a lie look like the truth! He is a Master of his trade and he has had all of history to perfect it!
It can be easily proven from history that Halloween predates the birth of Christ by several hundred years and is firmly rooted in paganism. There are three different historical streams that have gradually converged through the centuries to from what we now know as Halloween. Let’s briefly trace each one back to what we know as Halloween.
Celtic Paganism: The first stream goes back to a practice of the ancient Celtic civilization. They were a warlike people who inhabited what we know as Britain, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. A thoroughly pagan people who worshipped many gods, They were called “Gauls” by the Romans, who were defeated by them in 390 B.C.
Even though these Celts were ruled by various kings, the real power behind the throne was in the hands of the “Druids.” They were a secret, bloodthirsty priestly society who ruled by terror, sorcery, and witchcraft. Even the various Celtic kings feared their black powers!
The most important religious day for the Druids was the celebration of “Samhain, Lord of the Dead.” The Celtic New Year began on November 1st. The night before, October 31st, was the night to reverence Samhain. It was the time of the falling of leaves and general seasonal decay—so the appropriate time to celebrate the “Lord of the Dead.”
They believed that on that night the Spirit world came into its closest contact with the human world. As such, it was a night when the souls of the departed dead returned to their former homes to be entertained by the living (much like ancestor worship is practiced today by many religions). It was also a time when demonic and evil spirits came out of their shadowy nether world. If proper food, shelter and provision were not provided, these evil spirits would cast spells, wreak havoc on man and beast, and generally torment the living! If the proper “treat” was not awaiting to appease them, then they would respond with an appropriate “trick”—thus our custom of “trick or treating.”
Others, in order to fool and evade the invading spirits, would themselves dress up and masquerade as evil spirits, witches, ghosts, and ghouls. Again we can see the origin of our custom of dressing up as fiendish characters and creatures!
The perverted climax of this dark night was animal and human sacrifice to placate this “Lord of the Dead.” It was carried out by the priestly Druids who would rip the hearts out of their victims and use the blood for religious rites. They would also use the entrails and other body parts to divine the future and forecast the New Year. The remains were then burned in “bone fires,” from which we get the popular “bonfire”.
Is this some fanciful interpretation of history? Even a secular source like Collier’s Encyclopedia accurately records Halloween as a “popular secular observance. . .derived from the rites of the Druids celebrating the day of Samhain, when the Lord of Death called together the souls of the wicked who had died during the past year”. (Vol. 12, p. 196). Clearly then, much of our current Halloween practices have their roots in this ancient pagan Celtic religion. Even though the Celts were eventually conquered, their pagan practices never were fully rooted out of Western Europe.
When our Puritan ancestors came to America, they were far too Biblically oriented to allow such occultic practices. They knew that all forms of witchcraft were strictly forbidden by God as an abomination! However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, a host of our ancestors of Celtic origin immigrated to America from the British Isles. With them came many of their ancient pagan observances and practices, including Samhain, the Festival of the Dead, or Halloween. This pagan practice took firm root in American soil and has been a widely accepted cultural tradition ever since.
Roman Roots: The Romans, along with many other ancient people, celebrated harvest time in the fall of every year. Their festival was in honor of Pomona, goddess of fruit.
The Roman general Agrippa first built a Pantheon (temple for all of their gods) in 27 B.C. It was rebuilt by the Roman Emperor Hadrain in about A.D. 100 and dedicated primarily to “Cybele” the goddess of nature. Since it was a Pantheon, many other deities were also worshipped there. Thus, the Pantheon became the principal place of worship for the Romans and the place where they went to honor and pray for their dead.
When Rome fell to the invading barbarian horde of Gauls, they, too, overran the Pantheon, along with everything else. Gradually over time, it fell into disrepair. In A.D. 607 it was recaptured by the Emperor Phocas, who gave it as a gift to Pope Boniface IV. Boniface then reconsecrated and dedicated the Panteon to the Virgin Mary. So from A.D. 609 it was used as a Christian church (Santa Marie Rotunda). It was an easy—but tragic—transition from ‘Cybele’, goddess of nature, to Mary, mother of Jesus! Every May, a major celebration was held in the Partheon to the Virgin Mary.
Medieval Christianity: Since the Church was embraced by the Roman Emperor Constantine and made the official State Religion (Edict of Milan in A.D. 313), there has been a constant battle to keep the Church free from the influence of the pagan culture around her. Too often, as history has proven, while the Church had sought to “Christianize” the culture, she has more often been inculturated by her pagan surroundings! Thus, syncretism (the reconciling of differing beliefs in religion) of alien and hostile ideologies has always been the great enemy of the faith! There are few more tragic examples than Halloween!
During the Medieval Period, or Dark Ages, the Church had sought to increase its influence over many pagan practices—sometimes more successfully than others. Many pagan superstitions and practices that the Church had sought to eradicate began to reappear in Europe during this period. Involvement in witchcraft again became widespread.
One of the most important aspects of witchcraft was the number of celebrations held each year called “Witches’ Sabbaths.” The most important of those was known as the “High Sabbath,” or the “Black Sabbath,” which occurred on October 31st. It was generally a night of feasting and revelry. It was that feast that gave us many of the common paraphernalia of our Halloween like witches on broomsticks, black cats, death’s skulls, and pumpkins. So much of our Halloween folklore today stems directly from this High Witches’ Sabbath that was celebrated in Europe during the Dark Ages.
There is one more tributary of the historic stream that feeds Halloween. It is the one from which the name “Halloween” itself comes.
Very early in the life of the Church, there was a movement to honor and reverence the lives of certain church leaders and martyrs of the faith. Gradually, they were put in a special category and called “saints.” The Church father Chrysostom tells us that as early as the 4th century, the Eastern Church celebrated a festival in honor of the saints.
Gradually, there were more saints than there were individual days to honor them! The solution seemed to be to consolidate the remembrance of all of them into one special day called “All Saints Day.”
Remember that I said earlier that every May a celebration was held in the Pantheon in honor of the Virgin Mary? In A.D. 705 Pope Gregory III changed the celebration of All Saints Day to November 1st. In A.D. 834 Pope Gregory IV extended the celebration to the entire Roman Church. This was an apparent attempt to coincide with the ancient Druidic festival of “Samhain.” The Church wanted to accomodate itself to the recently conquered German Saxons and Norsemen of Scandinavia. So it baptized yet another pagan celebration!
Thus, this special Church day of remembrance was called “Allhalowmas.” It was easily shortened into “All Hallow” for the “hallowed ones,” or “saints” who were being remembered. The night before, October 31st, evolved into “All Hallow Evening.” It, too gradually was shortened to “All Hallow Eve,” then came the contraction “Hallows E’en,” and finally to its current form of “Halloween”.
So a day that started out as simply a remembrance of the saints progressed to a reverence for the saints and finally ended in a worship of the saints!
There was an unholy wedding then of the “saints” and “Samhain” . . . a union of “light” and “darkness”. . .a co-mingling of the “cup of the Lord” with the “cup of demons” (I Cor. 10:16-21)!
These three religious and historic streams, then, have converged to form the polluted river of Halloween. Again I must say that the ultimate fountainhead of Halloween is Satan!
Just as Satan has successfully veiled the true focus of Christmas by Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees and presents, and the resurrection of Christ with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs, he has given the true pagan nature of Halloween a benign cultural veneer of respectability!
As I pointed out earlier, Satan is the master of deceit and disguise. His favorite deception is to convince educated people that he really does not exist! What better way for him to perpetrate the illusion that neither his person nor power exist than to make it all “innocent fun!”
Anyone who has spent time on the mission field, as I have, will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole realm of evil spirits and the demonic are not something to be played with. To put them in the same category as fairy tales, make-believe and mythology is spiritual suicide. This is the very real and active fallen realm of “principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual forces in heavenly places” that scripture tells us to stand against in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:12).
When God gave the Promised Land to the early Israelites, He clearly warned them: “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone. . .who used divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deut. 18:9-12).
Likewise, we Christians are clearly commanded to “abstain from every appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22) — which I believe includes all of the trappings of Halloween.
Whenever the Apostles of Christ met with people involved in fortune-telling, witchcraft and the occult, the Holy Spirit firmly, swiftly and decisively dealt with them (Acts 8:9-23). When spiritual revival came to the ancient pagan city of Ephesus through the ministry of Paul, all books and paraphernalia related to the occult were destroyed: “And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing” (Acts 19:19-20).
The enterprising merchants of Ephesus had capitalized on the economic opportunities of the occult and witchcraft just as our contemporary businessmen have exploited Halloween into a multi-million dollar annual bonanza! Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Halloween witches are their best friends! History has proven that once something becomes culturally acceptable and economically profitable, it will remain and flourish—regardless of its origin—unless true spiritual revival comes to root it out! What is a concerned Christian parent to do in the face of such strong cultural pressures from friends to observe Halloween? Let’s face it, if you are a parent of small children, you have got a tough problem on your hands every October 31st! You don’t want to unnecessarily make your child an “oddball” and “outcast” with their friends. But you also don’t want to mindlessly give in to every social and cultural pressure exerted over you and them by a non-Christian world just to be popular and accepted.
It has always been easier for Christians to either condemn the enemy” or “baptize the opposition” than to come up with truly Biblical alternatives. Let me therefore try to suggest some possible creative alternatives to this current Halloween paganism so we can perhaps substitute good fun for bad.
Take a humorous or cogent tract—not a negative, condemning one and tape it to the candy you give out. You can usually find them at your local Christian bookstore. Most will probably not be read, but we are called to faithfully “sow the seeds.”
If you sow enough good seeds, some will fall on “good soil” (Matt. 13:23).
Well, I hope that I have been successful in my task of “unmasking Halloween.”
I also trust that I have put something Biblical and creative in its place.
For educated people—to say nothing of Christians—to continue to celebrate Halloween, makes about as much sense as a group of Jewish survivors from the death camps yearly celebrating the birth of Adolph Hitler and the atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust!
I think it is high time we parents awaken and stop Satan’s unchallenged influence in the lives of our children! Halloween is just another one of those opportunities for him to work unhindered in an area that we have too long ignored. I know that when we stand up and speak out against it, we are always in danger of being called narrow-minded religious fanatics or fundamentalists on a witch hunt! But Christ did not call us to be popular—just faithful!
As Christians, let’s be done with ghosts, witches, vampires and monsters! Let’s leave that to the prince of darkness. As Christians, we must focus on Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, who has “shone into the darkness.” (John 1:5). And let’s heed Paul’s admonition: “Be imitators of God, as beloved children. . .for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:1,8).
In His Love,
To date, the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners has been called the most watched news event in history. We are told that over 1 billion people around the world watched the miraculous rescue of “Los 33”.
But throughout this message, I want to personalize that story for you. That’s because in a very signifcant way their story is in reality our story. But as millions of people around the world watched this dramatic rescue, I am afraid that most did not see the obvious parallel to their own lives. These 33 Chilean miners were digging for gold and copper. Now they have become the “national treasury” of their country. Read how their story is really our story!
I have attached a manuscript that I have written entitled “Miracle in the Mine”. Please feel free to download it and I hope that you will be blessed and challenged by the message. You can download it here:
In His Healing Love,
Dear Ministry Partners,
By now I hope you have received and read my 3-part report on Africa that focused on our partners and projects in Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe. All are partners and projects that your spiritual and financial support help make possible! That’s why I spend so much time and space sending these email reports. I want you to be blessed and encouraged about your praying and giving. Soon after my 3 1/2 week trip to Africa, I went to Haiti for 5 days. My purpose was to encouraging some of our partners and be updated on the state of things in post-earthquake Haiti.
Needless to say, the over all state of affairs is not very encouraging—especially to the Haitian people who had hoped to see much more progress by now. While billions of dollars have been given or pledged by America and other donor nations, only a small percent has been deployed. That’s because the present governmental infrastructure in Haiti is still corrupt, inept and incapable of trustworthy deployment of the funding. So as you drive at a snail’s pace through Port-au-Prince, the lingering evidence of the January 12th mega-earthquake is everywhere. You still see devastated houses, buildings, walls and roads. Piles of broken cement blocks, stones, cement, twisted metal and rusting rebar are everywhere.
The roads that do exist are one big continuous pothole—now filled with water and mud due to the lingering rainy season. Virtually every street in PaP is backed up bumber-to-bumper with traditional “tap-tap trucks” overloaded with Haitian people and cargo. In addition, the roads are glutted with UN Vehicles driving around “doing nothing” but patrolling—which is why I call them the ‘United Nothing’ since they are doing nothing of lasting significance! Added to their posh white SUV’s, trucks and troop carriers, are the large dump trucks carrying loads of rubble outside the city to dump. It is estimated that no more than 5% - 10% of the rubble has been removed. One report concluded that there are 300 million tons of rubble yet to be removed. They calculated that it would take 1,000 dump trucks working 24/7 for 3 1/2 years to remove it all! A daunting task!
All along the roads are piles of rotting garbage, trash and open sewage—even though there are teams of Haitians with brooms, shovels and wheel barrows cleaning the best they can. But the spotty garbage dumpsters that have been brought in cannot keep up and are all over-flowing with rotting, stinking garbage and debris. And almost every foot of open space has a tent, tarp or sheet on it for shelter. While international NGOs have done a great job of putting up temporary “tent cities” for the homeless, it will be a very long process of getting them into more permanent homes. This will demand an international effort that will go on for years to come—if not decades. But in spite of all of this destruction, debris, dirt and decay, life still goes on. The resiliency of the Haitian people to keep going defies explanation from the human perspective.
That’s the BAD NEWS. But here is the GOOD NEWS! In the wake of the natural disaster with all of the death and destruction, there is an incredible spiritual revival taking place all over Haiti! Recent studies have shown that the church in Haiti has doubled since the earthquake! According to my friend and partner, Chavannes Jeunes, there are now 28,400 churches in Haiti. That means there are 24,000 Protestant Churches, 4,000 Catholic Churches—and 400 ‘voodoo churches.’ It is estimated that there has been well over 100,000 conversions to Christ in the aftermath of the killer quake! Baptisms of new believers take place in churches every Sunday. As you travel through the city of Port-au-Prince, there are temporary “tent churches” every where to replace the ones damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. And when you enter those churches, you do not hear “gloom and doom”—but joyful singing, praise and worship, testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness and sermons of hope for the present and future! So the Church of Jesus Christ is alive and well in Haiti and in many ways more healthy than the American church—many of which are suffering from the dis-eases of ecclesiastical narcissism and compassion fatigue. But I praise God for the thousands of American Churches and Christians who are proactively committed for the long-haul and are really making a difference spiritually and physically!
In the midst of this physical rubble and spiritual revival, the national elections are underway—just like in America. According to Haitian law, politicians cannot officially begin to campaign until 2 months before the elections—which is scheduled for November 28th. Then there will be a run-off between the two top candidates unless a simple majority is won by one of them on Nov. 28th. There are some 15 candidates for the Presidency. Many of them come from the elite or business sector so have rich political war chests with millions of dollars to wage their campaigns with. Already there are campaign posters everywhere. From a human point of view, it would appear to be a foregone conclusion that the current ruling party will win again—which will be “business as usual” in Haiti. That means continuous graft, corruption, greed, immorality, bureaucracy, ineptness and voodoo! (One of the leading candidates reputedly has 15 children by 5 different women, and he’s married to none of them!) There will be some 3,000 international observers for the elections—and it will take the vigilance of all them to bring about a fair election!
However, the Protestant, Evangelical and Catholic people have the votes to sway the elections. There are between 10 million and 13 million Haitians. Currently 4,400,000 are registered to vote and 35% are Christians. So if they were unified, they could win the Haiti White House. My long-time friend, Chavannes Jeune, is the only evangelical Christian running for President. Obviously his campaign is a classic “David-and-Goliath” battle! While he has huge grass roots’ popular support, he has little financial resources to work with. But the Bible shows that God is often pleased to step in and do the miraculous in the face of impossible odds! That way He gets the glory for a victory that there is no human explanation for. So pray that Christians in Haiti will be unified, will vote and be God’s salt and light in these elections. The Bible is clear that “...righteousness exalts a nation” (Prov. 14:34). And who will be an advocate for righteousness other than the people of God? History proves that most politicians are far more interested in riches than they are righteousness—which 200 years of Haitian history sadly demonstrates!
The Bible also says: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12). So whether it is ancient Israel, contemporary America or post-earthquake Haiti—God blesses any nation with peace and prosperity that truly honors Him! Let’s pray that this will be a historic election in Haiti that will finally bring a “new direction” and blessing rather than a continued curse to that impoverished country! But it will take a political earthquake on November 28th far stronger than the physical earthquake of January 12th to bring this about. And I believe the Christians in Haiti have the power to bring about such a cataclysmic spiritual earthquake that can change the course of that nation! Pray with me and the Christians of Haiti for such a divine intervention!
Please take a few moments to look at the pictures below from this past trip and click the pause button to read my captions about each photo. I think you will be blessed, encouraged and challenged…
Finally, I need your help in sharing this report with others. Years ago in the early days of the New Directions, we recorded an album entitled: Pass It On. That’s what I am asking you to do with this report—PASS IT ON to some of your key friends, pastors, church members and fellow business associates. Also ask them to join our mailing list and sign up for my Facebook and Twitter reports that I send from the field. This can be one of your most important areas of stewardship—which is the stewardship of your relationships.
In His Love & Compassion,
PS: I will be leaving on October 24th for India and Nepal for nearly a month of travel and ministry. I need your prayers and financial support for that trip ($3,000). I will also be sending out regular “tweets” and brief Facebook reports I hope you will be watching for.
This letter was sent to JL via email from Pastor Hanok Tamang seen here preaching at the Aradhana Church in Nepal.
JL, greetings buddy,
Just an unrelated story with what we have been communicating. I was just watching the news on CNN and BBC news and saw an amazing live rescuing process of the trapped miners. And saw an interview with Chaplain of President of Chile who said, “God has done it. It’s miracle. We have seen the hands of God in the whole process of rescue.” An amazing live story that I ever watched in my life. I do not know these people. But I know God has done it and brought them out of the dark cell where they have been trapped for more than two months of time. By seeing their health they all seemed doing great.
JL, this brought a reflection in my mind to think about those people who have been trapped inside the depth of the darkness, depth of their own little kingdom, trapped and dying in their sins, trapped in the devils hand and bondage of their own thinking. 33 people who have been trapped in 700 met. below of the earth. While I am writing this email to you 17th miner who is 56 years of age was on his way to rescue process to come on the surface of the earth. People were waiting with a joyful expectation to see their loved one. Heaven rejoice when the sinners are redeemed and saved. We have a compelling obligation to preach and teach the life giving Word of God. You have already rescued many and brought them in safe surface of salvation by preaching the Word in uncompromising way and manner and still continuing the rescuing process to bring many in safe land of salvation even today. I continually been watching with a surprising amazement what you have been doing to touch and bless the lives of many. You have loved many nationals unconditionally and been mentoring them with an unceasing and untiring prayerful efforts even today. Thank you for loving me and praying for me.
This is a fresh thought which conceived in my mind and decided to share this with you before the bed time tonight. See you soon in person. Thanks.
In His grace and love,
“The whole Gospel for the whole man by the whole church for the whole world!”
Dear Friends and Partners,
One of the unexpected joys of this past trip to Africa was to visit with my dear friend, partner and former staff member, Larry Warren, in the strategic city of Nairobi. He became a part of our ministry when he was in college and traveled and sang with the “New Directions.” Later, after a very distinguished and successful business career, he came on staff with me at NDI where he served for 15 fruitful years. During that time, we piloted together the Bible Training Center for Pastors (BTCP) developed by Dr. Dennis Mock. Our commitment has always been to provide practical Bible training for grass-roots pastors and Christian leaders that would not require them to leave their families and churches to go to a Bible College for training. This 10 course study provided just that. We took it first to India and Nepal and introduced it there to our partners, where it continues to grow and be used today.
Then we networked it among our partners in Africa—where it really exploded under Larry’s proactive leadership. The demand and growth was so great that we secunded Larry full time to the development of BTCP on the African continent. Increasingly, BTCP demanded all of Larry’s time and attention. So, with our full approval and blessings, he individuated from NDI and formed African Leadership to further develop BTCP over the continent. It has now grown into the largest grass-roots Biblical Training program of its kind in Africa. To date, there have been over 50,000 men and women across Africa at the grass roots level! Larry and I have kept in close touch across this past decade, as much as our busy travel and ministry schedules permited. So it was especially timely for me to visit him in Nairobi this past trip and stay in his home there as I transitioned through Kenya for Zimbabwe. He continues to be one of those “faithful men” who is teaching others…who are teaching others…who are teaching others (II Tim. 2:2)!
Another unexpected joy when I visited with Larry was to meet two special brothers whom I had not seen for years. Their names are Humphrey and Vincent. Both were rescued from the streets of Nairobi as young boys. Like thousands of others, they were “Street Boys” who fought for survival night and day on the busy streets of Nairobi—returning to the intensely crowded Kibera slum at night to sleep. One showed me the scar on his stomach from a knife wound he got at the age of 10 fighting for food! As young boys, they were found and brought in off the streets by our partner, Pastor Timothy Mulehi. He invited them to participate in our daily feeding program and school in the slum of Kibera. As a result, their lives were transformed for both time and eternity through the love and compassion of the Lord Jesus—all made possible by friends and partners like you! Today, both Humphrey and Vincent are dedicated Christian young men who are in separate universities in Kenya—at the top of their class!
In this life we will not see nearly all of the results of our ministries in the Name of the Lord Jesus. By faith we just have to “sow the seeds” of His love and compassion as widely as possible—knowing that “...His Word will not return empty” (Isa. 55:10-11). But occasionally the Lord blesses and encourages you by little glimpses like this of the “abiding fruit” that He promised to produce through our lives if we will be faithful. So thanks for your investment in needy children who are transformed, like Humphrey and Vincent, through the practical love and compassion of the Lord Jesus!
Larry and I always believed in holistic ministry that seeks to practically ministered to the whole man—spirit, soul and body. For us, there has never been a conflict between spiritual ministry and social ministry. Through both the ‘Great Commandment,’ and ‘Great Commission,’ Jesus clearly teaches that we prove our love for God through our love for our brothers (Matt. 22:36-40; 28:19-20). As I have stated above, we passionately believe that the combined messages of these two supreme commands can be summarized like this: “The whole Gospel for the whole man by the whole church to the whole world.” So I was not surprised when Larry took me out to see one of his latest slum school projects in Nairobi!
Here Larry, Mary, their sons, Josh and Johnny (and a friend), with Vincent and Humphrey, stand in front of this school that has been built from 4 containers stacked on top of each other.
Larry’s wife, Mary, points to the classroom on the second floor where she also teaches weekly classes to the students. Please pray regularly for Larry and Mary as they continue to do holistic ministry in Nairobi and other strategic cities in Africa.
After my time in South Horr with Stakwell Yurenimo at the Samburu Sports Camp and my brief visit in Nairobi with Larry Warren, I traveled on to Zimbabwe. There I met with two special brothers and their staff whose partnerships span almost 25 years. They are Pastor Simon Mkolo and Bishop Trevor Manhanga.
First, I visited the Lupote Church that we built back in 1996 through our “Barnabas & Dorcas Fellowships.” This is a strong mother church with many rural daughter churches. Most of these churches do not have buildings to meet in but have their services in school classrooms, homes, brush arbors or under trees—in typical African fashion.
When I arrived unannounced, the pastor was teaching a monthly Bible Study and Leadership Seminar with the elders of some of his many daughter churches—with each student eagerly taking notes.
The Kingdom of God is being advanced all over the world through the passion and dedication of this kind of simple followers of Christ. These are the “barefoot evangelists”, as Dr. Billy Graham has described them, who are on the cutting edge of God’s Kingdom. The vast majority of these wonderful men and women will never be able to go to a Bible College or Seminary for training. So their training is through this kind of personal mentoring—just like Jesus and the Apostle Paul gave to the First Century disciples.
The joy of Christ just radiates through the smile of this dear sister! Wouldn’t you love to have her in your Sunday School Class or Bible Study?!
This is the new well and water tank for a large acre garden that will provide food for the pastor and his people. This project cost over $6,500 and was all made possible through partners like you. We recently shipped a 40’ container with the drip irrigation equipment for this garden and fields that will soon become green and fruitful for these dear saints.
While I was there, I bought barbed wire to fence in all of the garden area to keep the goats and cows from eating the vegetables. This was made possible by another gift of $500 by one of our partners.
After my visit at the Lupote Church, I spent time at the Eben Ezer Bible College. Here is the principal, Francis Munkombwe, whom we sponsored to Bible College over 25 years ago! Now he is the principal of this Bible College he founded to help train these rural and bush African leaders for the ministry.
This was one of the new “Teacher Rondovals” that we have recently funded through our partners—the 4th Rondoval for the teachers at the Bible College.
While I was there, they were digging and pouring the foundation of the 3rd and 4th “Student Rondovals” for those attending the Bible College. Each Rondoval houses 4 students and costs $2,000. We are currently seeking funding for two more which will take care of all of the students for a couple of years.
I am standing on the foundation of the “African Tabernacle” that will hold over 2,000 people—African style! The first two classrooms of the Bible College are in the background. Once completed, this building will be used by the Bible College as well as a Convention Center for the more than 500 churches who have been planted by this ministry founded by Pastor Simon Mkolo. They will also rent it out from time to time to generate funds for their ever-growing churches—almost all of which are in poor rural villages. We are praying for partners to help us complete this building for $25,000.
A new drip irrigation kit is set up for the students to use with the well that we recently drilled for the Bible College.
Each day, the students spend part of the time in the classroom and part of the time in the garden where they raise the vegetables they eat while they attend school. They also use the food on the weekends when they travel into remote villages to do evangelism. I teach the students that there are two Bible Schools there. One is surrounded by brick and cement; the other by barbed wire. Both are equally important to God!
At the end of our day of working in the garden, I taught from Jesus’ Parable of the “Sower and the Seed” (Matt. 14). Here I talked about the “seed that fell on the path”—or the hard heart that is resistant to the Gospel.
This was my class of spiritual and physical farmers, with their spiritual father, Pastor Simon Mkolo (seated)—who has been a dear friend and partner for over 20 years.
Can you think of any greater joy or privilege than teaching students like this young lady?
Meet my dear friend and partner, Tailos. He is the principal of the “Garden Bible College”, just like Francis is the Principal of the “Eben Ezer Bible College.” We sent Tailos to the Genesis Farm in Ethiopia for a month of training to better equip him to manage this garden with the students, as well as the Lupote Church garden and others we are planting in rural areas.
We took a break one morning to travel about an hour into the bush from the Bible College to visit a typical rural African church. As soon as I stepped on the land, I knew that God wanted me to help them replace this church with a more permanent one.
Take a good long look at the inside of this typical African bush church. Compare it to where you worship each Sunday—probably with comfortable chairs or pews, padded carpet, stained glass windows—with all of the latest and best musical instruments and technical equipment. While we think nothing of spending multi-millions of dollars on such posh church buildings for ourselves, we scarcely give pennies in comparison for missions!
I am counting on some of you reading this email to give or help me raise the $5,000 we need to build a strong cement block church for this dear pastor and his overseer. This would be a very timely mission project for your church, Sunday School Class or business.
This young boy is one of the members of this church. How does the Sunday School or Youth Department of your church compare with what this lad experiences each week? Our very first church building project was in the country of Zimbabwe back in the early 1980s. Since then we have had the privilege of funding scores of churches in rural towns and villages in Zimbabwe. And with your help, we will soon see this one completed—hopefully by the time of my next visit to Zimbabwe in December.
After my time in Hwange, I drove across country to Mutare because Air Zimbabwe went on strike and left me stranded! It was a long 15 hour drive. But it was well worth it because of my last weekend with Bishop Trevor Manhanga, one of the most influential leaders in all of Zimbabwe today. I have known him since he was in Bible College in the early 1980s. And for the last few years, we have been in partnership with him in the development of the “Victory Center”—another holistic project that is ministering to the whole needs of people in his area during these very difficult political and economic days in Zimbabwe.
Here is Bishop Trevor (right) with his brother-in-law and close ministry associate, Hendricks Macheke. They are standing by one of the drip irrigation gardens planted among the chicken houses that we have been helping them develop.
Bishop Trevor stands in front of the nearly completed Sunday School Building built by one of our partner churches. It was built with the Hydraform Brick Making Machine that businessmen from America helped us purchase as an income generating project for the church. Soon a second Sunday School Block will be built beside this one.
Bishop Manhanga is both a great musician and great preacher—one of the most powerful on the African continent. It has also been a joy to bring him to the States and share him with some of our American church partners.
As I often say, you have never truly worshiped in fullness until you have worshipped in an African Church!
After I preached at Victory Tabernacle, I met the doctor whom we have partnered with through Bishop Manhanga. As you know from a previous email, a 40’ container was recently shipped to Zimbabwe, jammed full with supplies for the Bible College, drip irrigation equipment for Simon Mkolo and Bishop Manhanga, medicine and hospital beds for the local regional hospital in Mutare. All of this was made possible through the help and partnership of Dr. Jim Seymour and the Winston Joseph Company. The container is to be delivered the middle of October with its payload of supplies to bless these dear friends and partners who are making such a great difference in Zimbabwe.
A final unexpected blessing of this trip was to meet with my old friend and college classmate, Bishop John Wesley Kurewa. We had not seen each other since our graduation from Asbury College in 1964! He is a professor at the African University in the city of Mutare, and a good friend of Bishop Trevor’s.
Thanks for taking the time to view just a few of my pictures from this past trip to Africa. Each of my mission trips is always multi-focused like this, with so many wonderful opportunities of fellowship and co-ministry with some of my dear African partners. I only wish each of you could go with me and experience personally some of the great joys that are mine through these strategic partnerships and holistic projects. Just know that all I am able to accomplish with them is made possible through your prayers and partnership with me! So, the praise goes to God…the benefit goes to them…the credit goes to you!
Now, I turn my time and attention to Haiti where i will be when you receive this final “Part 3” of my African trip. I will be sending you some brief reports through ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ while I am there—so be watching for those reports.
In His Faithful Love,