Reflections On Africa – Looking Ahead

Praying with church members at Kapkoros, UgandaI’ve been back from Africa for a week now.  The jet lag is slowly wearing off, but I still find myself going to bed before 9:30 and getting up around 4:30 or 5.   Over the past week I have been reflecting on this journey and I realize that it has been the most challenging of all of the trips to Africa that I have made.

The challenges were not just limited to this journey, but they are indicative of some of the challenges that lay ahead.   These are all issues that I will be committing to prayer going forward.  I look forward to returning to Africa again in the near future, but I also realize that I will need to structure my future journeys much differently to be more effective.

The first issue I am seeing is the need for stability.  There is little infrastructure in the region to support ongoing mission work, so the need for raising up stable leaders is critical.  Time and time again I saw challenges that came about due to leadership issues.  Grooming leaders takes ongoing interaction.  Determining how best to create this interaction is one of the challenges ahead.

The second issue also relates to leadership, but deals with making the best use of available resources.  On this trip we ran into issues of budgets that were not followed, schedules that were modified without consideration of the consequences and promises that were not kept.   One of the challenges for leaders in this region is that they are often unwilling to say “no.”  In an effort to accommodate others, they will disregard financial resources, time availability and other critical factors.   In our own circumstance, even though we had covered the agreed on budget, more money was still requested.  There were days that we would spend 8 hours in a van to speak for 1 hour.  The cost in both time and fuel was a poor stewardship in our resources.

The next issue is that for many church leaders, status is more important than personal growth.   The intent of this journey was to conduct conferences with leaders.  Instead we found ourselves speaking in church meetings that were meant to bolster the “reputation” or “credibility” of a pastor, instead of building up the leaders who would build the church.  In 3 weeks I only had about 8 hours of one on one time with the church leaders I came to spend time with.

The next issue deals with the integrity of church leaders, particularly in Kenya.  As I travel through the region I learn of leaders who charge their churches 20% of the giving and demand special offerings for things like vehicles.  I learn of leaders who are continually found in immoral relationships.  When these leaders are given money by Western missionaries and organizations, they squander it and quickly return to a place of demanding more from their churches.

The final issue deals with foundation.  Each leader I was able to spend personal time with identified a need for foundation.   Many of the issues described above come down to this issue.  Without proper biblical foundation, these leaders are developing theology and practice from conferences and television.   With the growing advance of Islam into the region, the need for knowing your foundation has never been greater.

I believe my work in the days to come will be less about speaking in conferences and more about spending extended periods of time with leaders, laying a solid foundation.  To do this will take both time and resources.

My final 5 days were spent with Pastor Nimrod Masau the bishop of Faith Ministries East Africa.  Pastor Masau is an indigenous pastor working to accomplish many of the same tasks that I am.  We both see the need for the West to be a catalyst, but we both agree that the work needs to be entrusted to indigenous leaders.   Pastor Masau recognizes the same leadership and character issues as being the greatest challenge to this model. It is my hope to spend more time with Pastor Masau in the days to come as I believe the Lord has connected us for a greater purpose.

I was initially going to return to India at the end of February, but felt as though the timing was not correct.  This past Sunday after speaking at 4CI, one of the men I attend church with asked me if he could accompany me on my next journey to India.  As we talked we set a target date of September and will be praying towards that.

I’m not sure when I will return to Africa, but it is my hope that I can be there again later this year.

Click here to view all of the videos and pictures from this journey to Africa



January 20, 2013 – Wrapping Up

The Jesus Altar church family at Langas

The Jesus Altar church family at Langas

Today was my final ministry day in Africa.  Tomorrow I will be boarding my first flight around 5:30 PM to begin the trip back home.  Today it was important for me to put the distraction of going home aside and finish strong.

This morning I was back at the church in Langas and the church was filled to capacity.  Pastor Margaret led the people in an extended time of prayer and worship before I spoke.  I spoke from James chapter 1 on the importance of standing firm in the face of trials and temptation.

After I had finished preaching several people came forward to thank me for spending so much time with them.  I was then presented with a gift as well as additional gifts for Scott and Nathanael.  I have yet to open my gift and will wait until my family can watch me.  After the gift was given, the worship team begin singing and during the song many came up and shook my hand, placing a monetary gift in my hand as well.  I must tell you, this was the most humbling experience.  I have spoken in multiple churches while I have been in Africa, expecting nothing.  Now I am in a church in the slums with people who have so little and yet they want to bless me.   I nearly wept over their generosity.

When the service was done, I took numerous pictures with the church and individuals from the church.  When the pictures were over, the children all sat down and were given a mug for water and they waited patiently for a roll that was about the size of a small cupcake.  For many of these children it would be their only meal for today, if not for several days.  These children endure so much, many of them are barefoot eaten up with chiggers.

We then departed and went to pray with one of the church families in their home and from there went to Pastor Margaret’s for dinner.  Over the course of the afternoon Pastor Meshack (one of the Bible school instructors who lives in Langas), Pastor Margaret, Margaret’s sister Kelly and I talked over a multitude of topics.  The most interesting; however, was an in depth conversation on whether birth control was right or wrong and the issue of polygamy (which is very common in Kenya and Uganda).

After dinner I returned to the home where I am staying and began making preparations for my departure tomorrow.

January 19, 2013 – Strengthening Relationships & The Face of Poverty

Pastor Margaret Maheri ministering to the children in Langas

Pastor Margaret Maheri ministering to the children in Langas

Today the morning started off with a couple of hours of conversation with Pastor Nimrod and his wife Priscilla.  We spent time discussing where the Lord has been leading each of us individually and we recognized that we have many shared experiences.  We also believe that the Lord is connecting for a greater purpose than just providing me a place to stay while I am in Eldoret.   For so many I meet and myself, this seems to be a time of transition.  This past Monday I felt the Lord speaking very clearly to me that 2013 was a year of transformation.

Pastor Margaret was going to pick me up at 11AM, but as is often the case with African time 11AM became 12:30.  Pastor Margaret is currently going through driving school so she hopes to become more punctual once she is able to drive.

After picking up Pastor Meshack and Apostle Adams we went to Pastor Maheri’s for lunch and spent the afternoon discussing the challenges in the African church.  We also spent time discussing how the “grey” areas of scripture are addressed here in Kenya.  This included conversation about alcohol, dress and worship styles.  This was a great conversation and very insightful into the mindsets of different groups of people.

This evening we returned to Langas once again, stopping first at Pastor Meschack’s home and then proceeding to the church.  There were about 10 children who came into the church this evening, so I told the story of David and Goliath.   Most of these children are very disheveled and one of them did not even have pants to wear.  Pastor Margaret gathered them around as they listened.

When the meeting was over, Pastor Margaret began to hand out candy to the children and they eagerly gathered around her.  She asked about their memory verses and encouraged them to learn those verses well.  As we were leaving I asked Pastor Margaret if most of these children had families or if they were abandoned.  She said the majority are abandoned and are left in the slums to fend for themselves.

From there Pastor Margaret took me to the home of one of the church members.  This mud house is the home of a mother with 5 children including one infant and a drunkard father who disappears for months at a time.  This home was so small that I could stand in the main room and stretch out my arms touching all of the walls.   When this mother had her baby she was having complications and Pastor Margaret had taken her to the hospital.  The bill was 8,000 shillings which the woman could not afford, so Pastor Margaret has been paying the bill a small portion at a time.

Even in the midst of such poverty, I marvel at the joy some of these people have.  At the same time I am saddened that their poverty is generational and few of them will every know anything else.

January 18, 2013 – Mzungus and Business

Horace and Phyllis Leister Tumaini Children's Home

Horace and Phyllis Leister Tumaini Children’s Home

I was blessed last night when I arrived at my host home.  I am being hosted by Pastor Nimrod Masau and his wife Priscilla.  Pastor Masau is the overseeing bishop for Faith Ministries East Africa, a pastoral equipping ministry.   Their home doubles as a ministry conference center so it is very spacious and their hospitality is second to none.  We spent the evening discussing the challenges facing the Kenyan church and our respective ministry work.

This morning I had the pleasure of connecting with Horace and Phyllis Leister.  I met Horace and Phyllis through their son Jake who attends church with me in Wichita.  The Leisters run Tumaini Children’s Home in Eldoret where they are responsible for over 20 children who were abandoned.  The Leister’s shared the stories of a number of the children and the miraculous ways that God has intervened in their lives.

After visiting the children’s home, I went to the business district of Eldoret where I spoke at a daily lunch gathering.  I spoke on the parable of the talents and challenged the audience to become better stewards of their skills and abilities.

Afterwards I spent the afternoon with Adams and a young pastor and entrepreneur named Pastor Elisha, whom we had just become acquainted with.  Pastor Elisha purchased our lunch and then thanked me for my words to the lunch time gathering.  He said he had been wrestling with a business decision and that fear had been holding him back.  In my message he found a breakthrough and he was very excited.

This evening I returned to Langas and spoke on the healing of Naaman.  Tomorrow I will be meeting with the faculty at Rift Valley Technical Training Institute and then speaking in Langas again tomorrow night.

January 14, 2013 – Up to the Mountains

Students at Yakatoi Primary School in Marakwet, Kenya

Students at Yakatoi Primary School in Marakwet, Kenya

Today we split the team up.  Nathanael and Scott remained in Kitale to explore project options with John Juma and Apostle Adams.   I went with Benson (an elder in Adams’ church) to Marakwet, approximately 45 KM from Kitale.

On our way out of town, Benson and I picked up Pastor Kaptoi, the pastor of the African Inland Church in Marakwet.   We made our way into the mountains making our first stop at the Yakatoi Primary School.  As soon as the 600 students begin hearing that a “muzungu” was in the car, we were swarmed.   After the teachers got the students corralled, I spent a few moments with the faculty and principal.   They found it amazing that we could not discuss God or the Bible in our schools.  After praying with them I spoke for about 10 minutes with the students, prior to their dismissal at lunch.

From there we left with a 600 child entourage surrounding the car, and made our way to the home of Pastor Kaptoi’s mother for lunch.  Some of the adults eating lunch with me refused to wash their hands, because they didn’t want to wash after shaking a muzungus hand.  Lunch consisted of black posho made from millet, white posho made from corn, greens, chapatti and peas.  I was also given fresh milk and yogurt (sour milk).  Needless to say I only took one sip of the sour milk to be courteous.

After lunch, we made our way to the Church of Christ, where I led the leaders through 1 Kings 19 and talked about how to deal with discouragement in the ministry.   When I was finished we spent time praying together.  After the conference we looked at the new building that both the Church of Christ and AIC church were building.  We took pictures and then returned to Pastor Kaptoi’s mother’s house for tea.

As we left we gave a ride to one of the church leaders, who shared with us that she was getting ready to quit her ministry due to discouragement.  She said that my message was sent to renew her strength and that she had renewed her commitment to press forward.

Upon my return to Kitale we ate dinner and discussed Scott and Nathanael’s activities for the day and our schedule for tomorrow.

January 13, 2013 – Progress in Kitale

Adams' leading the people of FGC Sindeneet

Adams’ leading the people of FGC Sindeneet

This morning we spoke at Adams’ church FGC Sindeneet.   When I first came here in 2009, their entire church came to see me riding in the back of a truck.   Today they have grown to well over 200 people and have completely filled their current building.

Nathanael started the day by speaking to the youth.  Pastor Scott gave a message on spiritual warfare and then I spoke to the church about our journey together over the past 4 years.  I have gotten to know many of the church members personally over the past 4 years, so this felt like a homecoming of sorts.

This afternoon, Nathanael and Scott are visiting with Pastor Bramwell Katui to visit his work in the slums.  They are spending some extra time determining the projects that their mission team can undertake when the arrive this summer.

Scott and Nathanael returned late afternoon talking about their experiences in the slums.  They found the slums to have their own unique hierarchy and the well being of the children was the primary concern of the inhabitants.

After dinner, Nathanael was surprised with a birthday cake.  In Kenyan fashion after several rounds of happy birthday, Nathanael was required to feed a piece of cake to everyone in attendance.

January 12, 2013 – Darkness and Muzungu Stew

Town center in Kitale, Kenya

Town center in Kitale, Kenya

Today we traveled back to Kitale from Suam.   Getting back across the border became interesting as the Ugandan customs agent asked to search our backpacks and attache cases before we left.   As he went through my bag, he pulled out my laptop and asked “is this a bomb?”   He proceeded to do this for the rest of my electronics as well.  After searching my bag, he went through Scott and Nathanael’s bag and then began to challenge my faith, asserting, Jesus was just a man!  Finally he decided he was finished arguing with me and told us to go.  Pray for Uganda as the resistance has become much greater than what I have experienced previously.

When we arrived back in Kitale we had lunch in Adams home where I marveled at how much his son Judah has grown and found myself captivated by his daughter Abigail.  Due to sever complications, Carol and I prayed many hours for Mary when she was pregnant with Abigail, so I consider Abigail a miracle child.

After lunch we returned to the African Theological Seminary where we are staying.   We found out immediately that there was a problem with Scott and Nathanael’s room and that the seminary was without power and had been for over 24 hours.  I had enough battery on my laptop to get a quick message to Adams about our room issue and to send a few messages to Carol, then I had to shut it down.

As darkness fell we lit candles and our neighbor Reinhardt invited us to have stew with him and the other Muzungus staying at the seminary.   Reinhardt is a Swiss national who has lived in the U.S. for 15 years.  Last year, he and his wife Michelle resigned their jobs and began volunteering with water missions.  We were also joined by Zena our house mate, a German national who is in country developing self-supporting organic farms, her friend Philip from Kitale and Chris an engineer who also works with Water Missions.  We learned that this was Reinhardt’s first attempt at stew and in the end we all decided it wasn’t bad and rated it a cafeteria grade soup.   During our meal together we exchanged stories of our travels and the distinctive aspects of Africa.

January 5, 2013 – Setbacks and Uganda

children at Suam Guest House

children at Suam Guest House

I awoke at around 7AM.  I went to start up my tablet pc to try and skype with Carol.  I had plugged the tablet into my power converter when I went to bed and it showed that it had been charging.  Unfortunately, at some point during the night a power surge must have come through the converter, because my tablet was no longer functioning.  I was able to eventually have a text chat conversation with Carol using my cell phone and a wireless connection.

We learned that the airline officials and airport staff had not located Scott’s passport.  Scott called the state department and learned that he would need to go to Nairobi on Monday morning at 8AM to replace his passport.  We decided that it would be best for Scott to fly from Eldoret on Sunday evening and began making adjustments to our schedule.

As we were preparing to leave the seminary campus we met a couple who were a part of Water Missions.  This couple has dedicated their lives to traveling the world creating purified drinking water systems in areas where clean water is unavailable.  We committed to connecting further when we return to Kitale.

Once Scott’s airline tickets were booked, we made our way to Uganda.  We found ourselves facing extra scrutiny at the border, especially in Uganda.  Fortunately we were all cleared through and we made our way to the Guest House.  Upon arrival I was able to honor a request that had been made of me in 2009.  The pastor of the PCM church in Suam had asked if I could supply reading glasses and I was able to provide him approximately 15 pair.

After arriving at the Guest House, we went into Suam for dinner.  We ate at one of the local hotels.  The people were intrigued as a movie rendition of David and Goliath was playing on T.V.  The audience was made up of men, women and children and two of the men watching were Muslims.  Sadly the rendition was not true to scripture, showing that David needed 3 stones to kill Goliath.   We commented on the fact that Biblical training is so important, when so many gather their information from media.

January 4, 2013 – Arrival in Kenya

arrival in Eldoret

Arrival in Eldoret

We arrived in Kenya at about 6:30 AM.  After clearing customs we went to the domestic terminal at Jomo Kenyatta to check in for our 2:30 PM domestic flight.   We were told that that we would not be permitted to check in until 1 PM, so we sat in a waiting room until then.   None of us had slept more than an hour or two on the flight to Nairobi, so our weariness was beginning to catch up to us.

We finally departed Nairobi and flew to Eldoret on a turbo prop.  This flight included a screaming child who screamed almost 30 minutes of the 45 minute flight.   Fortunately we were all tired enough we slept through the majority of it.   We arrived in Eldoret around 3:20 PM, where we were greeted by Adams, Mary and Judah, who presented us with flowers.  We were also met there by Pastor Margaret Maheri and a small group accompanying her.  Finally we met up with John Juma, a great friend and pastor who is also in my opinion the best driver in all of Africa.

Once we departed the airport we went to Pastor Margaret’s house for tea and fellowship.  Pastor Margaret and her sister blessed us with their hospitality.  We also met several pastors while we there.   Once we had finished our tea we started on the road to Kitale.  About 20 minutes into the trip, Scott realized his passport was missing and we made a frantic search of the van and his baggage to find it.  Unfortunately his passport could not be found, so we returned to Eldoret airport to ask for assistance.  About 10 PM we headed towards Kitale once again.  All of us were now so tired that our bodies were beginning to hurt.

When we arrived in Kitale we stopped for a quick meal and made our way to the African Theological Seminary where we were staying.   Each of us was thrilled to be going to bed, we had only slept 3-4 hours out of 52 hours of travel.

Africa Trip Itinerary – January 2013

  1. 4th January 2013-Arrival at Eldoret Airport
    1. Travel to Kitale       
  2. 5th Jan 2013-Travel to Uganda by road.
    1. Time-12pm arrive 2pm
    2. Uganda wildlife Authority Guest House.


6th Sunday services:(More than 5  denominational churches coming together)

  • Rev Carl Willis-Speaking in the joined Assembly of P.C.M (Perfection churches and ministries) – Location to be identified.
  • Pastor Scott-Speaking in the Assembly of B.O.C (Body of Christ Churches)- Location to be identified
  • Brother Nathanael-Speaking in the Assembly of A.G (Uganda Assemblies of God Church)-Location to be identified

Time:10am to 1pm (All assemblies)      

7th Monday:

  • Mission tour to visit church planting work of Redeemer Bible School among the pokot community in the lower region of Bukwo District.
  • Visit Ng’eng’e Manyatta ( pokot homestead)
  • Ngangata Manyatta (Homestead)
  • Kriki Manyatta (homestead)

Time:10Am to 4Pm

8th to 10th Thursday:

  • Annual Youth Conference 2013

Time:10Am to 5pm

Time:7Pm to 10Pm-Revival meetings

Venue-Chesower Secondary school.      

11th Friday:

  • Government leaders and Christian leaders’ seminar.

Time 10am to 1pm

Venue-Local Government Hall-Bukwo town

12th   Saturday

  • Speaking to Redeemer Bible School old students both certificate and diploma classes (2007-2011).

Time:10Am to 2pm

Venue- Local Government Hall-Bukwo town

13th Sunday service-At  P.A.G (Pentecostal Assemblies of God)

Time:10pm to 1pm

  • 13th Sunday evening-Leave Uganda

Time:3pm arrive at 5pm Kitale


14th Monday January 2013

  • Pastors Conference in Marakwet
  • Location-Kapcherop AIC Church (African Inland Church)
  • Time:10Am to 4Pm

16th January 2012 -Conference-Hosted by Apostle Adams

  • General conference

Location-Sinendeet Full Gospel Church

Time:10Am to 4Pm (every day)

17th January 2013 Thursday-Leave for Eldoret

18th to 20th (Friday to Sunday) Conference Hosted by Pastor Margaret Maheri

18th January –  Morning 10.00 –  12.00 p.m. Fellowship at Pastor Margaret’s Residence

18th January – 4.00 p.m – 6.00 p.m Speak to Christian Union Students at Rift Valley Technical Training Institute

19th January –  10.00 a.m – 1.00 p.m – Conference at Kosachei – Near Turbo

19th January –  4.00 p.m.  – 6.00 p.m. – Revival meeting – Langas Church

20th January – 10.30 a.m – 12.30 p.m – Sunday Service – Langas Church