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.
(East Africa, Part 3)
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He,
I am He who will sustain you,
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Apostle Simon Mkolo
Dear Ministry Partners,
Like so many of our national partners, Simon Mkolo is a radical for Jesus. Decades ago, he started out as a political radical who was arrested for his protests against the white minority rule in Southern Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe. But while in prison serving a 4-year sentence for his radicalism and insurrection, he met Jesus – the greatest radical in all of human history. As a result, he was radically converted and became a radical follower of the Lord Jesus. (Please click here to read his full story on our website).
It has been a joy to walk out a radical relationship with African partners like Stakwell Yurenimo, Bishop Trevor Manhanga, and Apostle Simon Mkolo, whom I visited on my last trip to Kenya and Zimbabwe. I hope these last several reports have helped you see the positive radical results of long-term partnerships. In this last summary report of my recent trip, I want to focus on our brief time with Simon Mkolo and his associates in the area of Hwange, Zimbabwe.
MINISTRY TO THE POOR IN SPIRIT
Simon has given his entire adult life to some of the poorest people in the remote villages of Zimbabwe. After his conversion and release from prison, he walked from village-to-village witnessing for Christ. With little support other than the prayers of his wife, he lived by his new radical faith. The vast majority of the people he ministered to were of the Tonga Tribe. Most were living in the darkness, superstition, fear and bondage of African traditional religions and ancestral worship – dominated by the nyangas, or witch doctors.
Demonism was also common in many forms. These evil forces of the devil fiercely opposed Simon’s simple – but powerful – preaching of the Gospel. There were a number of attempts on his life – but God always miraculously saved him. And God has sustained him until now in his late 70s.
CHRIST BUILDS HIS CHURCH
In village after village, small churches and preaching points were established, where Simon discipled and nurtured local “sons of the soil” to help in leadership. Few had church buildings, and most met under trees in typical African style. Others met in schoolrooms or in rustic “bush churches” the people built from wood and thatch. Their musical instruments were goat-skinned drums, tin-can-shakers filled with gravel and their own hands that clapped in rhythmic beats no white person could imitate! And like King David, they “…danced with all their might” unto the Lord (II Sam. 6:14)!
Their simple faith was a demonstration of the truth of the words of James, the brother of Jesus: “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the Kingdom He promised those who love Him?” (James 2:5).
Across the years, God enabled us to help these “simple saints” who were so passionate and “…rich in faith,” to build more permanent church buildings. Each building was sponsored by one of our American ministry partners or churches, with an average cost of $5,000.
A DIVINE APPOINTMENT
God sovereignly networked my life with Simon’s at the “International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists” (ICIE) in Amsterdam, sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. After our eyes locked in a chance meeting, our hearts soon began to be knit together in love. This began a lifelong radical relationship that continues to bear that “…lasting fruit,” that Jesus promised to bring forth in and through our lives (Jn. 15:16).
While we are both now “old war-horses” for the Lord, we still love being together for fellowship and ministry, and to reminisce over how God has so marvelously led us. And we still are an active part of the Holy Spirit’s fraternity of “…old men who dream dreams” (Acts 2:17)! Until the Lord calls us home, we will continue to “dream dreams” for present and future generations to experience and enjoy! Thanks for dreaming Kingdom dreams with us!
A TENT IN THE WILDERNESS
Back in the early 1980s, Simon graciously invited me to attend his Annual Convention when he brought together several thousand of his followers. As I fellowshipped with them and preached several times daily, I thought of the Children of Israel meeting God in the “Tabernacle” in the wilderness.
Their weekly meetings were held on a vacant lot where they would put up a "structure" that I dubbed the “Burlap Cathedral.” I called it that in contrast to the then famous multi-million dollar “Crystal Cathedral” built by Robert Schuller!
In spite of the fact that it was usually very hot, dry and dusty, they would have multiple services from morning until late at night – with worship and celebration that was literally “out of this world!”
BELIEVING GOD FOR A BIG MIRACLE
After participating in other Annual Conventions in their temporary “Burlap Cathedral,” it became blatantly obvious to me that they needed a more permanent place to develop their own Conference Center. By faith, Simon “pitched a tent” at the base of a small hill they would claim as their “Prayer Mountain.” Ultimately, a Prayer Chapel was built there on top of the hill in honor of Simon's wife, Myna, who was killed in a tragic auto accident. This prayer Chapel is literally like that “…city set on a hill” that Jesus taught about, whose light cannot be hidden (Matt. 5:14).
Next, we helped them build a small “Bush Bible College” as a place to train pastors and leaders for their growing churches. Years earlier our ministry had sponsored nearly a dozen of Simon’s first leaders to the Pentecostal Bible College in Harare. They each returned to work at Simon’s side in evangelism and church planting. And most were also bi-vocational, and used their skills to build the furniture for the Bible College.
The classroom blocks of the Ebenezer Bible College, built with help from work
teams sent out by our ministry. Working with their hearts and hands,
the Bible School was built.
The Bible College, where dozens of pastors, evangelists,
church planters, and Christian leaders have graduated.
In the first years of the Ebenezer Bible College, the students studied during the day, and then slept on the classroom floors at night. Over time, we were able to build several “African Rondovals” for the teachers and students, at an average cost of $2,500 - $3,000 each. And since the Principal of the school is also a carpenter, he built bunk beds so each Rondoval could hold 2 students.
Traditional "African Rondovals" were built for the faculty and students.
I had the joy of helping with the landscaping for these wonderful
"African Chalets". In addition to housing the students, the Rondovals
are also available as lodging for guests.
After studying all week, the students would go out into the rural villages and African bush for evangelistic meetings on the weekends.
THE PROMISE IS FULFILLED
But this past year, the crowning touch of the Conference Center was the building of the large “African Tabernacle” that is both the geographical and spiritual center of the Campus. This was made possible by the generous donation of our ministry partners who funded this Tabernacle in honor of their brother, who has gone home to be with the Lord.
While waiting for God to provide the funds for their Tabernacle,
they pitched a tent on the foundation, and held weekly services
and annual conventions.
Once God providentially provided the funds through a ministry partner,
they began to build with their hearts and hands. The building soon became
the largest church building in the entire area!
Four large water tanks were placed at the back of the Tabernacle to catch
and conserve every precious drop of rainwater.
As the outside was constructed, the floors were tiled on the inside.
A large stage area was also built and tiled.
The Tabernacle is dedicated to the glory of God!
So by God’s grace and the prayers and generosity of our partners, we have seen the facility grow from the “Burlap Cathedral”…
…to this beautiful “African Tabernacle” that will seat over 1,000 people – African-style! It will serve God’s people there for generations to come.
Any time there are large gatherings of people, toilet facilities are quickly needed. For the first few years, only crudely built “outhouses” were available. But through another gift by this same wonderful partner family, we were able to build a large “Ablution Block” with beautiful tiled bathrooms, flush toilets, and showers for men and women. It is now one of the best facilities of its kind in this entire region.
Modern bathroom fixtures were installed.
The walls and floors were tiled.
This modern Ablution Block is not only a blessing for their ministry,
it also makes the Center a more desirable facility for others to rent.
Obviously flush toilets and showers require water, so we had to drill a well. Due to the lack of electrification in this area, the well had to be run through solar power. Additionally, we put up a water tower for pressure through gravity. We praise God for the ministry partner who donated the $5,000 to drill and fit this well.
KITCHEN & DINING HALL
At a Conference Center like this, people need to be fed physically as well as spiritually. In traditional African style, the women cooked out in the open for the first year or so. But we wanted to upgrade this part of the Center also, and give the women a better place to cook and serve. We are thankful to report that this past year we have just finished building a large new kitchen and dining area.
The foundation is laid around the frame of a portion of the old kitchen.
The frame and metal roof are completed.
Because of the scarcity of water, we added gutters and water tanks
to catch and save every drop for use in the kitchen - just as we did
for the African Tabernacle.
Metal chimneys were also installed for the smoke from the cooking fires.
The building was built so the wood fires can be fed from the outside.
Pastor Simon dedicated the Kitchen and Dining Room
at the annual Women's Conference.
So through our partnership with you and them, we have moved from this kitchen …
…to this kitchen, where I hosted a picnic for the staff workers…
For me, if there is land available, no major project is holistic and complete without a garden. Fortunately, there was land available at the Conference Center to start a drip irrigation project. In fact, it was one of the very first things we developed in order to help provide food for the Bible College students. Both the teachers and students work regularly in the garden to help produce the food they eat. And since this is a very hot and dry region, food and water are a premium, so we drilled the first well to supply the Bible College and garden.
The Bible College students learn 'physical farming'
and 'spritual farming' together.
They learn to produce 'physical fruit' along with 'spiritual fruit'.
My favorite classroom: The Garden!
Together in our 7th decade!
There is so much more I would like to share about this partnership that has now spanned more than 3 decades. I have not touched on the “Sports Ministry” that is still under development – which will be the subject of a future report. Nor have I had the time and space to report on the “Animal Husbandry” ministry to the poor and needy – especially the widows and orphans.
Thanks for joining me on this journey to Zimbabwe. It is my prayerful hope that this overview from my past trip will bless and encourage you over how your investment is continuing to “…bear much fruit” for God’s glory (Jn. 15:8).
But I want to again challenge some of you to go to Zimbabwe and see for yourself what God is doing. Africa is anything but the “dark continent.” It is just the opposite. That’s because one of the greatest continuous revivals of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries has been taking place in Africa.
In addition, Zimbabwe is one of the safest countries on the African continent. While there is still much need and opportunity due to bad governance and one of the worst economic holocausts in history, there is also incredible beauty – starting with the people. In addition, there are some of the most famous natural wonders and safari destinations in the world.
This partnership of ours in the Hwange area is very close to historic Victoria Falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And nearby you can “walk with lions” and “ride elephants” – a never to be forgotten experience!
So I encourage you to consider going on what I call an “African Kingdom Safari” with a mission group from your church – whether a work team…building team…medical team…agricultural team…landscaping team…VBS team…sports team – the ministry options are only limited by your vision!
And for those who cannot go physically, I urge you to go spiritually through your prayers and financial support. God is mightily working on the African Continent and we lovingly urge you to partner with Him and us in these holistic ministries that are sharing the whole Gospel…for the whole man…by the whole church…to the whole world!
In His never-aging radical love,
“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,