Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Doctor Refers the Great Physician

I’ve got to tell you guys the news. Billy is a man in his eighties and stubbornly resistant to the pleadings of his family and others to entrust himself to Christ as the One to transform, redeem, and motivate his life. For 41 years, his daughter, a quietly strong and radiant believer, prayed for her Dad to yield his self-sufficient nature to her Savior, Lord, and Friend. This past week he did!

Kate’s sister (Kate is the praying daughter mentioned in the preceding paragraph) called last week and said, “Kate, you need to call Daddy and see if he says the same thing to you that he just told me”. Then she hung up without explanation. Kate, half alarmed yet excited, called her father. He answered the phone and said,” let me tell you about God”. The story unfolds like this.

Billy and his wife want to move into an assisted living community for health reasons. To do so requires a completed health form signed by a physician. Perturbed that his doctor wouldn’t sign off on the form without performing an actual check-up, Billy finally gave in, made the appointment, and showed up for the doctor to do the deed. The doctor saw Billy and sent him directly to the hospital for blood work and other tests.

At the hospital, the doctor assigned to see Billy, an Atlanta physician who is understated in his ways, yet respected and quite the gentleman, as is often the case for truly native Atlantans, was in the midst of a rough day. Later, he would tell Kate that God had worked in her Dad’s life in spite him more than because of him. He was just in a moody state of mind and bothered because his partner had not shown up, his workload was high, and taking care of a health form was not on his list of things that mattered. Nonetheless, his nurse intervened and said, “Dr. Kinard, I think Mr. Billy is ready to know Christ.” Startled out his pity party, he asked the nurse to show Billy in and leave them alone for a bit to talk.

“I knew he was good doctor”, Billy exclaimed to Kate, “but that man is a good preacher too! He talked to me a long time and he explained a lot and from the bible.” Billy went on, “Christ is in my life now and I know it.”

Kate cried. Her ladies group – some of whom had joined her in praying for 20 of the last 41 years, cried too. She shared the story with our fellowship on Sunday. We cried. We also rejoiced and bowed our hearts to Christ in worship, thanksgiving, and praise. How awesome the gospel! How gracious our Lord! How faithful our God!

Anyway, I had to say something. I changed the names around a bit for anonymity’s sake but there it is. I hope you considered it worthwhile. May it encourage and may we persevere to pray.

Read more!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Kenyan People and the Running Tap

Here’s an email to a friend in whom God seems to be fanning a heart for Kuria, a community in SW Kenya and NE Tanzania. I’ve changed the names to maintain anonymity; however, the task is real and worth passing on.


Thanks for checking on the airfare to Nairobi and keep praying. Jonas believes the visit is an important next step. He also told me on Sunday that he would make the trip with us if it helps. (Certainly it will.) We are waiting for a reply from the water team (committee) in Kenya to answer the following questions:

1. If we were to place just one well in their region, which village and location would they select?

2. If we wanted to see 1 well per 250 people in that village, how many wells would we need?

3. Do we need to address the watering of livestock from a dedicated source in order to protect the water source for the people?

Nina, there is a lot to learn and we need to petition God for helpful and knowledgeable helpers. The water project must really be looked at as a water, sanitation, and hygiene education project. There is a need for villagers to educate their community at the onset of the task to build ownership, nurture the local vision, and shore up the conviction that such a project is doable and sustainable.

Next, the community must invest people and money in the project - in keeping with their resources- to prove ownership exists and that the heart will be there to sustain the effort and administrate the societal impact to the village.

Further, the scope of the project must include the provision of latrines/privies, bathing facilities, and instruction on hand washing and home water treatment and storage to address microbial concerns.

Presently, water is boiled for drinking and bathing happens at the river - except for the elderly or infirm. In Jonas's household (a few neighbors included), 12 to 16 people consume about 200 liters of water per day. This fits with the average of 10 to 20 liters consumption per day per person for Sub-Saharan Africa and pit latrines are the nearest things to a toilet.

Moreover, to keep the 200 liter drum topped up, numerous trips for water are required. For Jonas's kin, this is less of an issue because they have a well, bucket, and rope nearby. However, for many it is quite a time consuming chore. (Amazing what we take for granted. For this portion of Kenya, a 4 km walk to queue for a spot at a shallow water source- shared by livestock- is common. In contrast, when we run the tap for two minutes whilst brushing our teeth or shaving or when we flush a new (3.8 liter) toilet (less often for the older ceramic water hogs) three times in the course of a day, we have consumed more water than the average for a Kenyan for the entire day.)

Nina, pray for knowledgeable team members stateside, trustworthy, capable, and affordable well-drilling teammates in Kenya, and a project manager near enough to Kuria to lead the charge on the ground and give direction to the local task. Also, pray for the Village Water and Sanitation committee (presently three men - Jonas's brother, Joseph Nyabasi, a local pastor with mechanical aptitudes and plumbing /piping skills, and Ben Bantu, an elder statesman of sorts that has the respect of the community) that must carry the bulk of the work load of organizing and leading the tasks of educating, maintaining, administrating the initiative and working to sustain the wells, privies and wash facilities when the task is complete.

Pray also for three wells (1 for livestock) as a start and 10 total for two of the many villages in this region. Pray for leaders with the heart to serve, the courage to work, and the vision to pray. Pray too for the resources (this is not a stretch by any means for our Father) to fund the effort (estimated 2,500 to 3,500 US$ per well) and for increasing fellowship, service, and nurture by God’s people here and beyond as we twin with this people to under gird, serve love and befriend to the honor of God and in keeping with His call to “love our neighbors” at home an abroad.


If you guys in the Blogosphere know anything at all on this matter of clean water, please drop me a note. We are praying and moving and are convinced of God’s command and lead to love this tribe. Two Kurians are part of our community in our village of Stone Mountain. To us, this is not a “feel good short term project” to an unknown people. We genuinely want to share in bettering the lives of our neighbors in E/SE of Migori, Kenya and our Kurian brother, sister, and their young son here and their extended families at home.

All helpful input is welcomed and sought. Cheers and thank you for reading.

Read more!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Redefining Maturity

Who in reality is the mature believer? The guy who has sat in church for 25-years and knows his Bible from cover to cover but does little with what he knows? Or, a believer…who knows considerably less, but uses what he knows to make a huge impact on his part of the world? (Muse, Guy, Can New Believers Plant Churches?, 3 April 2006, The M Blog )

Tracing a link from Alexander Campbell, a book blog buddy from last year, I came across the following comments that merit discussion. His other blog , SimpleChurch.Co.UK, led me to Guy Muse, a house church planting, IMB-SBC Missionary in Guayaquil, Ecuador and fellow blogger.

As a local church practitioner, participant in Christ's body, and fellow elder with an aim towards authentic, uncomplicated and missional service in the manner of Christ, I found the following worthwhile. I’ll post some thoughts here with a few links to further your reading. As always, I pray you will find them worth the read.

One reason for the way we treat new believers and expect so little of them is related to our view of maturity. We mistake knowledge for maturity. This is related to our view of discipleship as a body of knowledge to be transferred rather than patterns and processes to be passed on.Perhaps a better measure of maturity would take into account not only the level of knowledge but also the ratio between knowledge and practical living out of that knowledge.Who in reality is the mature believer? The guy who has sat in church for 25-years and knows his Bible from cover to cover but does little with what he knows? Or, a believer like * Vicente, a church planting Ecuadorian tentmaker, who knows considerably less, but uses what he knows to make a huge impact on his part of the world?

*Vicente was a two-month old believer when he first came to one of our church planting training seminars. He actually LIED TO US! saying he had been a Christian for six months, thinking we would not allow him in the training for being such a new convert. It wasn't until after he had begun his fourth outreach group that he shyly admitted to his secret! He used the basic knowledge he had been given and put it to immediate practical use. Today, four years later, Vicente has become a tent-making missionary in the steps of the apostle Paul. Two years ago he gave up everything he cherished and went out totally on faith into the a neighboring rural province click here for the whole story.) Vicente has been there ever since evangelizing, discipling and planting churches. Last Wednesday night he shared with us that he believes the Lord wants him to personally share the Gospel with all 60,000 people in the rural region he is now living.

To learn more about Vincente and others at work in Ecuador, click here for The M Blog – Guy Muse and here for the originating post containing these excerpts.

Read more!

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Not So Secret Message of Jesus

Always the contrarian, I tend to read new authors before they are popular and back off when it seems their writings find their way too far into the mainstream. Recently this trait has surfaced as my avoidance of all things McLaren. Yet, based on a recent book summary, Review: The Secret Message of Jesus (Simms, Jill. Relevant Magazine.Com April 2006), I sincerely hope the author’s writing and popularity will underscore the importance of living an integrated faith as it springs from the newness of our life in Christ and flows towards His mission and call for us His followers.

For too long of a season, it seems, we as Christians may have reduced the gospel to a personal encounter alone and limited the reach of Christ’s message to a personal salvation from sin through faith in Him. The personal decision to the call of Christ is most important; yet, is it the only aspect of His gospel beckoning? Could we have missed that the call is also a call to community, restoration and mission? Such a discussion belongs out in the open and merits further conversation; for now, however, it is reasonable to say that the following review is worth the read.

“Faith that counts ... is not the absence of doubt; it’s the presence of action”
(McLaren, Brian. The Secret Message of Jesus. p. 109. W Publishing Group, 2006.)

In The Secret Message, McLaren boldly appropriates a perspective of the Word that focuses primarily on the spoken message and behaviors of Jesus Christ and how radically different they are from the brand of Christianity widely taught in Sunday school. The secret message of Jesus, simply put, is that the kingdom of God is at hand. Once we assimilate that truth into reality, political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual and spiritual revolution is possible. Throughout the book McLaren succinctly digs beneath the message we have heard since birth, examines the authentic meaning of that message, and then explores how Jesus’ message could change the world. He asks, did He come to simply whitewash over the problem of sin or did He actually come to restore the world to its designed perfection? (Read More)

Read more!