Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Videos from my trip

Here is a link to the videos I showed in church from my trip


Below is audio of the message I gave talking about my trip


Monday, September 3, 2018

Looking back in thankfulness - on good and hard days

My heart is filled with thankfulness To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength And causes fears to fly;
Whose ev’ry promise is enough For ev’ry step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love And crowning me with grace.

Those words very much describe my heart this day as I prepare to fly, and I think I’ve experienced them more related to my Africa trips that any other time. Earlier there was some fear that a political uprising could cause problems, protests, etc., but that didn’t transpire. I have felt my weaknesses here but have also felt flooded with strength by Christ’s faithful sufficient promises. Each day and every step I can look back and see Him who walks beside and sustains me with His love and grace. Today is a hard day to say goodbye to my African family but a good day as I will see my CA family soon.

The other day we drove by the grave of my son Mark Joseph here in Congo and I was reminded of experiencing these truths in greater ways (see blog from 8/31/18). As I look back 7 years to the first time I traveled home from Africa, my heart wasn’t initially filled with thankfulness as I sat on that plane for a long lonely ride. My thoughts were in a downward spiral of sin, self-pity that was spinning into resentment and bitterness. But that day by God’s grace I stopped listening to myself and started preaching to my soul about God (see Psalm 42-43). I took that road less traveled and it made all the difference. My circumstances hadn’t changed, but my perspective changed as I pursued thankfulness in the midst of my selfishness. Instead of complaining I began counting my blessings, and as I travel back from Africa this time, I can assure every reader of this blog we have much to be thankful for. Not just physically or materially (the more obvious in Congo), but spiritually we all need to count and recount our blessings (including those not as obvious without this exercise). I’m re-posting what I wrote then in hopes it will stimulate you to rehearse and even record past blessings, and to revisit the next time you’re in a downward spiral.


My heart is filled with thankfulness To him who reigns above,
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace, Whose ev’ry thought is love.
For ev’ry day I have on earth Is given by the King;
So I will give my life, my all, To love and follow him.”


Update: I’m also filled with thankfulness for travel mercies of getting changed seats to have extra legroom in the emergency exit row this time for my 26 hours of flying! Spiritual blessings are most important, but physical blessings for a tall guy on a cramped plane are a great added bonus!! :)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Worshipful Weekend to Remember

Saturday was a day of rest and I was blessed and refreshed. I was able to call my kids for a bit and also had some down time and then a nice dinner with Didier and Patience (his pastoral assistant). Didier told me all the men would agree this has been a revival for them and these reformation solas have re-invigorated them to pursue biblical ministry under these 5 pillars of the church. Patience in his free time after the conference had been typing all of the notes on these points into a 13-page syllabus of the main points in French and English! It was a labor of love of many hours and will be a blessing to handout to the pastors and those wanting to pass on its truths to others! What a joy this young man is and I can see why Didier is grooming him for ministry and praying he’ll become a key leader for Compassion for Congo and help lead the church’s next generation here.

On a side note about notes I heard that the police colonel who attended took notes and is sending that out to many he knows via WhatsApp! (If you don’t know what that is, ask a young person, hint: social media group app :). Even in this compound that doesn’t have electricity without running a generator, the theology of the Reformation is going out in print and in phone apps, by God’s sovereign providence!

Saturday night was quite a feast with fish and pigeon and rice and foo-foo and okra. I asked for the pigeon recipe as I told him we have some pigeons at our church! The youth group had a choir practice, study, and sleepover here last night so the guest house was full with young men who love the Lord.

Sunday morning was a blessed time of worship with the 3 churches gathered together for joint service and agape meal. There were 300 some people (155 kids!) and the service was 3 hours long. The prelude alone was powerful and so worshipful. Since there was the Lord’s table and 6 choir songs, I was asked to keep my preaching to 75-80 minutes. I felt a foretaste of heaven ... worshipful singing and reverence at the Lord’s Table, rejoicing in music and in the message exalting Christ. I preached on John 20, responding to seeing Christ in His risen glory. For communion those who are prepared walk forward to take the elements and I and the pastors held hands on stage and kneeled and prayed. The choir was 40 people deep and so uplifting, especially because I knew some of these people personally from our interactions these 2 weeks. When I thought the service was done, they sang 3 more songs :)

When I started my sermon I quoted a few phrases I learned in Swahili when I was adopting Matteus, and the place erupted in applause and hand-waving and I think made me friends with all of them. After church I think 100-200 people wanted pictures with me. I don’t think I’ve taken that many pictures since my wedding and my face muscles haven’t been as sore since from all the smiling :) They also presented me with gifts to hang in my office or home to remind me to pray for them and I will. I’ll miss these dear saints as I head out Monday PM. Lord-willing I’we may be able to send some pictures and videos when I get Wi-Fi at the airport in Ethiopia before my 20.5 hour flight from there to LAX (no, that’s not a typo, 20.5 hours on one plane :). Appreciate your prayers and support for this trip, all glory be to Christ our King!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday recap and rejoicing

Thank God for this Friday! It was a good day, and I was definitely tiring from the schedule by the last 2 days, but we finished well by God’s grace. Friday we finished the day by looking at roles of wives and husbands and parents and children in Colossians 3:18-21 and Ephesians 5:22-6:4. The first 30-40 minutes were on what we’re all to put on daily first in Colossians 3:12-17, just like Africans put on beautiful clothes we need to but on these beautiful characteristics. Forbearance and forgiveness in v. 13 and love are critical in both contexts and I sensed was critical for many in the room to hear.

Most of the next 2 hours I taught on family roles with very practical and pointed examples and exhortations that I trust were some of the most important words of the conference. I shared very transparently about my own failings and how I’ve had to ask forgiveness from my wife and kids and I sensed that in particular was impactful (and maybe even unheard of to some). When I talked about the importance of honoring father and mother, even when they’re not acting or living honorably, I heard later there was conviction and some prayed together about that. Didier told me at one point he had tears streaming down his face, even as he was interpreting, God’s Word was impacting him in a scripture he’d heard many times, but now felt God’s Spirit speak deep to his heart. His wife Annie felt the same way about the same point. All to God’s glory as He spoke beyond what we could!

To close the conference, we spent many minutes in individual prayer of confession and application. We began the week praying the scriptures in Psalms and ended it praying the truths of Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5-6 for ourselves and our families. Then when I thought we were done and it seemed a good note to end on, Didier gave another 20 minutes of exhortation :) After 3 hours of teaching without a break the people were as engaged as ever this last day, and they’re already asking for more. After 2 full weeks of teaching I thought they’d have enough, but they’re already asking when I can come back :) They were thankful for what they learned from this American from God’s Word, but I can tell you we Americans have much we can learn from these Africans! There may have been some conviction during the teaching, but their listening and hunger for teaching should be a conviction for us! These people preached many sermons to me this week by their attitudes and attention to scripture and their worshipful response and fervent thankfulness to God.

In a time of testimony this week one woman stood up to share she’ll never forget this time and how last week God delivered her from darkness to see the light. Another lady who sat in the front each day seemed to have such a negative and downcast disposition all week but in the last couple days her whole countenance seemed to have changed, to the glory of grace. A pastor shared with me he had been complacent in his spiritual life and not reading like he should, but now he felt motivated again to God’s Word and the ministry. A mother stood up to talk about the restoration God is doing in her family and how her son wants to make things right. Didier shared with me the discouragement of ministry I can relate to, but his has been very deep this year. Now he’s greatly encouraged. I’m greatly encouraged also, and I pray sharing this encourages you in our great God, all to His glory.

My prayer request today is that you join me in praising God for a blessed conference and ask Him to continue to bear fruit and not let the world or the devil or distractions snatch away the seed. Pray with me also that this weekend will be a blessed celebration as all the churches gather together. And pray especially for the pastors (myself included) to be faithful to and joyful in the Solas and our families

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Remembering God’s Faithfulness

John Piper says in the thing we see and struggle to understand why, God is doing a thousand things, most of which we know nothing about.

This morning 8/31 (Congo time) marks a day like that for our family. As I carried my son’s casket on this date, one thing I know is there was with me “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief...our sorrows He carried” (Isaiah 53). On this anniversary of my baby boy’s burial I’ll never forget how God was merciful and I captured my thoughts in this memorial. Here is a tribute I wrote on this day to the son we can’t forget:

Below is a tribute to the God who never forgets us:

Here is some of the rest of the story. I hope it will encourage you afresh to record God’s blessings in answered prayer so you never forget them and can look back years later as I was blessed to do today

Remembering with rejoicing.
To God be the glory, great things He has done!

I sense this trip is also much bigger than I see, and am looking forward to what God does, even though much of it I may not know about

Thursday recap and prayer requests

Here are the prayer requests I sent out to our church email list for those who aren’t on it:

praise the Lord for giving me health and help in teaching and for these precious Congolese saints who have listened to hours of teaching daily for 2 weeks now. Please pray for:
- Didier’s van, it has been out of commission for 3 days now and they’re having trouble fixing it (and his wisdom for what to do with it even if they can fix it). His van is essential in transporting people for the ministry
- Processes to come through for adoptions of 3 families by next year (I met with a government official today to help and there’s an important follow-up tomorrow)
- Healing of Didier’s daughter Mary (battling malaria), and others in the churches who are suffering or struggling
- My last full day of teaching tomorrow (Friday on The Family) and preaching Sunday (3 churches)
- God’s continued care of my family till I fly home next week

Today (Thursday) I talk on God’s plan for men. I followed a similar intro and outline to yesterday’s message on God’s high calling for women. Instead of giving my notes today, I’ll just give the high-level points:
- Encouragements to men 
- Encouragements of the type of men Jesus used (focusing on the flawed and failing disciples and how patient and gracious He was to use them and us like them)
- Exhortations on what true greatness looks like (Mark 10:35-45)
- Exhortations to the type of servant-leadership Christ calls for in the church or home
- Examples Jesus gave in the upper room (and Sea of Galilee in John 21) that changed Peter
- Examples in book of Acts and 1 Peter of how the Lord transformed Peter to serve Him

Questions I remember in Q&A time:
- If you could summarize the type of man God can use in 1 or 2 words what would they be? (humble & loving ... humble because he’s God-centered and loving for Christ’s sake)
- How can I be a faithful man to witness to friends who don’t like to hear about my faith?
- I visited a church in Zambia where they did foot-washings on stage? Is that what John 13 expects of us?
- Can you give some practical examples of what it looks like to humbly serve others?
- How can I pass on what I’m learning here to others? (Didier’s assistant is taking detailed notes of both weeks in French and will photocopy for all on Sunday)

It was another blessed day that ended with glorious praise to our worthy almighty King. After the teaching we sang this song in response that Didier said they sing in honor to the God whose Word they have just heard, in thanks to Him who is worthy, almighty, and sovereign.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wednesday recap - God’s High Calling for Women

Wednesday the crowd continued to grow to the largest we’ve had, as I spoke on God’s Heart and Plan for Women (Thursday will be men, and Friday will be the family). Some ladies came for the first time today, and some men brought their wives. Toddlers and infants were present for the 3.5 hour-long teaching session (again no break just straight sitting and the nursery and nursing lounge is wherever you are sitting :) Didier said after the ladies were “very encouraged” and this teaching is “reviving” and has awakened from spiritual sleep and given new life. I told him it has done the same for my heart that neeed that and I pray it will do the same for our church that needs this awakening. Lunch was delayed till 1:40 today as Didier implored me not to stop as he felt the Spirit leading to keep going (we started at 10ish after music). At the end there was a special time of corporate and individual prayer. We haven’t done this at the end of other sessions, but Didier asked the to pray in light of what they heard and how the Spirit was moving.

In the front row of the video above is a woman in yellow and a man next to her across the aisle. He’s a police colonel who had been very kind to help with rides while Didier’s van is having problems. After sitting in on some of the sessions, he invited his wife the last couple days, and Didier said he thinks they will start coming to his church this Sunday. Praise the Lord! 

In the afternoon we went to town as Didier wanted me to meet the Chief of Social Services who is key in the adoptions that Didier prays and trusts will move forward after the elections at the end of this year. We just met briefly but Didier thinks it’s good for adoptive parents to come back and show pictures of their children and how they’re doing, like the Wilmarths did with the judge years ago (there’s a new judge now). 

For our meal we went to a restaurant where all of the workers were deaf, except the manager. Ironically, it was one of the few times in town I’ve been able to communicate with people besides Didier as I know a little sign language (as opposed to no French). They were excited to see an American signing to them. Their signs are a little bit different but many signs are the same. I was reminded of when Jaime was with me at the Lubumbashi airport many years ago and there were some people signing sitting in our same small waiting area. Jaime’s bachelors degree was in Deaf Studies, focusing on American Sign Language. It was an amazing connection as Jaime rarely has interacted with deaf people in the foothills where we live but she got to share about our Christian faith with deaf people in a Congolese airport. It’s a small world and we have a big God. 

Like I did on yesterday’s blog, I thought I’d include the teaching outline and the questions I recalled from Q&A time to help you get a fuller feel of the teaching time Wednesday morning


Review Day 1 and Day 2
Tomorrow: Men, Friday: Family (Marriage, Parents, Children)
God’s plan for women is bigger than just being a wife or mother
We will start not with what a woman does in the home but who a woman is IN Christ and who a woman is TO Christ
We’ve been talking much about the man of God, but we must also talk about the woman of God
Why should men be here? We need to see women as God sees them
We need to see how important women are to God’s plan
We need to speak of women and to women as Jesus does
We need to support women and be thankful for all they do

Also if you are a father of girls, this is who you should raise them to be
If you are a single man, we’ll see the type of godly woman to marry
If you are a young woman, we’ll see the type of godly woman to be
My sisters in Christ, I hope today will encourage your hearts
Before I teach I would like to ask a sister in Christ if she would pray for this time

Turn to gospel of Luke chapter 1 and you’ll want to keep Bibles open
We’ll be looking at just 1 gospel to see God’s plan for women
This will be very different than man’s plan for women
Man’s plan was to use or abuse women to fulfill the desires of man
In the OT men would have multiple wives and would not love them
In the OT men saw woman’s job was to just serve man and give them sons
If a woman could not have children, man saw her as cursed and good for nothing
Many times women were not even mentioned in the family line, only the father and his sons names were given, not the names of women
When a woman was old, some would see she no longer had a purpose

If you look at the first few verses of Luke 1, who can tell me a woman’s name you see there
V. 7 says Elizabeth was old and could not have children
But v. 6 says she and her husband were righteous in God’s sight
The start of the gospel highlights this godly obedient woman
V. 5 gives her family line also, not just her husband, she was from the family tree of Aaron, the brother of Moses
In this chapter an angel says Elizabeth will have a son, but not just any son, the one who would introduce Messiah!
Can I ask one of our sisters here if she can read v. 24-25
So she understood the Lord looked with her in favor in a special way
From the beginning of the gospel we see the Lord’s favor to women like her

In the next verse and next section we see another woman the Lord favors, what is her name?
Mary was a young virgin probably the same age as some in the choir this AM
I would ask a brother in Christ to read v. 28-31
I would ask a sister in Christ to read v. 38
This is the pattern for a woman and all believers, “I am the Lord’s humble servant, whatever your Word says, let it be done in my life”
She is an example of trusting God even when it doesn’t make sense
She is also an example of purity for young women, pure until marriage
She is also an example of young women spending time with older in the next section

Summarize v. 41ff - before joy to the world, it’s joy to the women
Notice the first “gospel song” in the NT is by a woman
We remember OT songs of salvation by Miriam after the Exodus, Miriam is the Hebrew name for Mary
Mary’s prayer is using language from the psalms and the prayer of Hannah in the OT
Mary teaches women (and men) here how to pray in a God-centered way
Notice how much of this first chapter of the gospel is hope and joy for women
Read v. 57-58 - the joy is spreading from these women to many others

Paraphrase, expound 2:10 in relation to “all people” including women
Emphasis on Mary first in v. 16, 19
Summarize v. 34-38
Notice in v. 36 it again gives the family line of a woman, the tribe she was from (earlier it said Mary and Joseph were of the family line of David)
This woman was a widow from many years but she was so faithful (note v. 37)
She was serving God at the temple all the time for all her life
Only 2 people in the temple understood who baby Jesus was, and she is one who God honored in this special way
It says she was fasting and praying all the time (talk about women’s prayer group at GCBC including several faithful widows)
Notice in v.  38 her ministry —- this is an example for every woman
She didn’t preach from the pulpit but she spoke of Christ to many

Luke 4:25-26 - first sermon of Jesus in Nazareth his first illustration was God’s grace to a widow who was a Gentile
V. 38-39 - heals Simon’s mother in law and she immediately serves them
Luke 7:11-16 - summarize and expound
Luke 8:41-56 - summarize and expound
Later He will heal a crippled woman who had been bent over for 18 years
Later He will say one reason God will judge Israel’s leaders is because of how they have been mistreating and taking money of widows

Other examples (not to turn to): Woman at well
Gentile woman with suffering daughter in Mt 15 - “woman, great is your faith!”
Teaching “kingdom of heaven is like...woman taking some flour...woman putting leaven or yeast in dough and it expands and becomes bigger...woman who has lost her coin...woman coming to a judge pleading for justice...”etc.

View of women and teaching before NT - read from DNTB in binder
Summarize end of Luke 7 - transition to sermon notes in binder on “Discipleship and Women in Ministry” (preached at GCBC this summer, adapted portions)

Women be encouraged!
Men you need to encourage and thank women for their service
If you have not been seeing them as Jesus does, repent, ask him to change you
If you have not been honoring women in your life, ask them to forgive you

Application to young women, unmarried men, married men

Young women for older in life, older for younger 
Young men to for older in life, older for younger

When Paul tells Timothy women shouldn’t preach or teach to men, do you think it was just because that would be a scandal in their culture? 
Follow-up: are any of the gifts in Ephesians 4:11 for women or only men?
Should a woman be a politician?
When a man is preaching, if only a woman can interpret, is that ok?
I was doing door-to-door evangelism and the man said I shouldn’t listen to you teach me the Bible as you’re a woman, what should I do?
A young man asked “how do I begin to view women rightly instead of lustfully?”
Follow-up: What are the things I should be attracted to for a future wife?

Applications on growing in attraction and affection to your spouse as you choose to love and seek to make self decrease 

Tuesday recap - Faith-Healing and Deliverance Ministries

Tuesday by God’s grace was another good day of teaching and the biggest group we’ve had so far. From 9:30-10:00 each morning this week is a time of prayer, public reading of scripture, and singing (including shouting at times, and non-standard clapping beats that this white guy does his best to keep up with :) The teaching time is then from 10:00-1:00 with no break, but at least they let us sit down for the Q&A at the end :) Rather than being bored after the first couple hours, if anything they seemed more engaged and emphatic in their amens and affirmation and appreciation in the latter part of the message. 

Faith-healing and unbiblical deliverance ministries and philosophies abound, so today’s subject in particular I was prayerful and careful and doing my best to make every statement helpful and biblical. With each line interpreted into both French and Swahili that gives me more time to give care and thought to my next sentence and observe audience’s body language or facial expressions to think of illustrations or explanations to help if I can tell needed. The teaching style is more extemporaneous and expressive and expanding on the fly as best I can with the Spirit’s help. To give a little feel for what it looks like, below are the exact notes I was using with my iPad along with some printed notes for one section noted below from GCBC sermon. I’ve added comments in brackets

Week 2 Day 2 Teaching Notes
Ask show of hands for how many not here yesterday? Last week?
Prayer and scripture - anyone else want to share testimony from last night or this morning as you pray the psalms?
[another 15 minutes of testimony on the power of praying the psalms, the homework assignment from yesterday]

Today I would like to talk about praying for healing
We will also talk about deliverance from sin by repentance
Topic: Healing, Deliverance, and Repentance

We know God can heal but what about the gift of healing in NT times?
Some claim today to have healing power like Jesus and the apostles
What we see today is very different than what we see in the NT
But the NT does say “pray for one another than you may be healed”
God may heal us, but when He does not, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us 
We need to be careful not to be deceived about healing or we’ll be discouraged

How does Soli Deo Gloria apply? Can God be glorified if we’re not healed?
Sola Scriptura - what does scripture teach about healing and healers?
Sola Gratia - how does God’s grace apply if we’re not healed?
Sola Fide - if you’re not healed, does it mean you don’t have enough faith?
Solo Christo - Is Christ our focus if not healed? Is Christ sufficient?
[above was probably the first 40 minutes or so]

[adapted 45 minute message I preached down to 20 minutes or so but double with interpretation]

Just like scripture and prayer go together, deliverance and repentance
Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and believe the gospel”
This is how we are delivered and transferred to His kingdom, by repentance and faith

  1. To be saved is to be delivered or set free from sin’s slavery

John 8:31-36 
In v. 31-32 being free is by sola scriptura, knowing the truth of scripture
It’s not by a man of God or deliverance ministry
If you know the truth and believe it by faith, sola fide, it will set you free
In v. 34 it’s not deliverance from spirits we need, it’s deliverance from sin
We should not blame Satan, we should see it is our sin we’re responsible for
V. 36 says if Christ sets you free you are truly free - Solo Christo

  1. Every Christian has been delivered from darkness

Colossians 1:13-14
When we repent first repent and believe, we are already delivered from the domain of darkness into Christ’s kingdom
Sinners need to repent to be forgiven, that is how we’re delivered

v. 14 is clear deliverance is forgiveness 
Christians do not need to be delivered from the darkness, they already have been, but they need to live in the light of God’s kingdom (2:6)
When Christians sin it’s like a slave who is set free but who still chooses to do some of his old jobs
He doesn’t need to be set free again, he needs to know he already has been set free
He needs to see sin is no longer his master, he has been delivered from slavery
You can study this more later in Romans 6-8

We need to see Christ is the sovereign head over all powers of darkness (Col 2:10)
We need to see we are complete in Christ, and He is sovereign, not Satan (v. 10)
We need to see the cross has taken away the power of sin and darkness (2:14-15)

  1. Every Christian practices deliverance by repentance

Col 3:5
These are not spirits to be delivered from but sins that must die
Notice this is still Solo Christo - v. 1-2
We must not look to Satan or blame Satan, we must look to Christ 
We cannot do this in our own power, we must look to Christ’s power
In this sense, we can pray as Christ taught “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us...”
We have been delivered from darkness, but still need rescue from temptation
But we don’t need a deliverance ministry, our deliverer is Christ alone
Paul said in Romans 7 “who will deliver me...thanks be to Jesus” 
Not thanks to the man of God, or the ministry, thanks to Jesus
Col 3:8-10
Discuss PUT OFF and PUT ON in v. 12-15
HOMEWORK FOR TOMORROW: Read and pray from Colossians 3
This is the foundation for the family in v. 18-21 but it starts here

[Below were in my notes but didn’t get to because of interaction, but covered much of below in Q&A time - wish we had more time for Ps 51]
PSALM 51:14 “Deliver me from guilt...” - see v. 1-4, 10

Normal NT words: saved and sanctified (not deliver)
1 Corinthians pattern of dealing with problems
Paul doesn’t pray for deliverance from SPIRIT of...disunity, immorality, etc.
What Paul does is preach repentance from SIN of disunity, immorality, etc.
Paul doesn’t say come to me as the man of God
Paul points them to Christ alone as the solution, not him
Paul doesn’t say stay after church for a deliverance service
In the NT there are no deliverance services
In the NT there was no spiritual gift of deliverance
Jesus DID give His apostles powers over demons
But the apostle Paul teaches them about Christ alone - solo Christo
Paul doesn’t want them to depend on him, he wants them to depend on Christ alone


I used to be at a church where during the deliverance time we would fall on the ground and be “slain in the spirit” - was that wrong?
How should we interact with people who are caught up in these movements?
It seems like some of the practices of these people are like witch doctors or magicians? What do you say?
We have many bad theologies here, if someone I know is going to a faith-healer, what should I say or do?
How do I repent of a sin? Do I need to confess it just to God or to someone else

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Monday Praises and Prayers

Today was one of the most moving times of worship I’ve experienced and one of the most encouraging times of ministry in my life. Tears kept streaming down my face as these believers sang so passionately of Yahweh who is great. I felt a foretaste of heaven’s worship with every tribe and tongue and the roof was raised toward heaven along with my spirit as they lifted up the name of Jesus (the repeated refrain of the other song in French). This building that is probably 20 feet x 50 feet sounded like it was filled with hundreds of worshippers singing. Knowing and hearing testimonies of these saints makes their worship and fellowship only sweeter and deeper, despite the language barrier. 

One girl was taking IV treatment for malaria in the morning and was in evident pain in the afternoon, but was there and stayed for the 2-hour choir practice after a long day of teaching. Most in the room had been in this building for 20-30 hours this last week and their attentiveness and affection for the Lord is both an encouragement and exhortation to my soul that has needed stirring. I told them I came to minister to them but didn’t anticipate how much they would minister to me.

This week’s teaching theme is The Christian Life and the Family. Today for the first session I taught on scripture and prayer, living by scripture in Psalm 1 and Psalm 119 and praying scripture (ex: v. 18, 27, 25, 36-37, etc). Don Whitney’s seminar he did at GCBC years ago on praying scripture was the pattern I used, including stopping for 10 minutes of application (praying a psalms).  and then sharing testimonies of the experience. Probably a dozen people wanted to share what they learned and how this teaching and practice is changing them. One young man stood up to confess sin and how the words of Psalm 1 convicted him about his friends and the path of life he was following. Another confessed he was busy with the things of church but was spiritually dry like 119:25 and was encouraged that God is giving him life as he prayed that. One woman from another church stood up to say she sees how important it is that everything is connected to scripture but she doesn’t see that in her church (pray for her). Pray also for a man in the front row who is a part of a cult but has now come 3 days and wants to bring his wife Wednesday.
                   The teaching is translated into French and Swahili

Below is the teaching schedule for Week 2 for your prayers. The 2nd week won’t go into the afternoon. The format will be 9:30-12:00 teaching, brief break, then Q&A from 12:00-1:00, then done for the day. Lunch will be provided for all attendees but Didier insists he take me out to lunch to get me “American food my stomach is used to” :)

The attendees are expected to be most of the same from last week but it’s open to any in the church and guests from last week. The theme is The Christian Life and the Family. Some of the topics changed from the original list at his request. It’s good for me to be flexible and adapting to the Spirit’s leading and people’s needs. Here is the new schedule day by day for your prayers:

Monday - Scripture and Prayer (and how to pray scripture like Don Whitney taught us)
Tuesday - Healing, Deliverance Ministries, and Repentance
Wednesday - God’s Plan for Women
Thursday - God’s Plan for Men
Friday - God’s Plan for the Family

Lord’s Day highlights

Today was a blessed Lord’s Day with our family in Christ. I shared with them how many have been praying for this time and that as believers in Christ we are all one in Christ no matter our country or color. By God’s adopting grace we have the same Father. 

Below is my brother Patience (pronounced posse-on-ts). He is Didier’s assistant and one of the few men around here who speaks English. He is aspiring to the ministry and is a true servant and has been very helpful and encouraging in so many ways. He’s only 24-26 years old but is hungry and humble and developing his gifts and ministry potential. Guys like him have so blessed and refreshed my soul!

The children’s choir this morning was a real highlight. They sang a song written by Elize Mukotshi (Didier’s daughter in white shirt on the left in the back) and set to music by her brother Emany on the keyboard. Several songs we sang in church were written by Didier or his family. The first hour or so of the service was singing, special music, scripture reading and prayer. The people’s passion and love for the Lord and evident heartfelt worship was moving and motivating for the preaching time, which is the majority of the service (1.5 hours). Interestingly, they didn’t clap for the music but they clapped after the sermon to show their appreciation for God’s Word. Even when twice as long as American sermons (just saying :) I hoped to encourage them but I think they encouraged me more.

Didier is a good interpreter - in fact I often think he makes it sound more exciting than what I said! :)
Awas able to preach Christ from John 19:25-30 today and I believe He was glorified and His people were edified. It was about Christ’s Sympathy and Sufficiency in His last words on the cross to the women and John. They wanted me to keep preaching more than 1.5 hours but I thought I should stop there and quit while I was ahead :) Plus I was out of notes.

Thank you who have been praying for my health. I’m doing far better than I deserve. To complete the song theme of the last couple days, I have “blessings all mine and ten thousand beside, pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, God’s own dear presence to cheer and to guide.” And on top of that, I am well in body and soul thanks to your intercession and God’s mercies.

I leave you with the mouths of little ones from whom our majestic Lord ordains praise and establishes strength (Psalm 8:1-2)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

Today was a blessed day of rest I needed, and God has impressed on me the words “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” I feel my strength returning today as I was well enough to eat a big meal and take a big nap, and tomorrow the bright hope we have in Christ will be reflected in the bright colors of African dresses and shirts at church. The orphans will be singing tomorrow as well as the regular choir and even as I write I hear their exuberant praise and practice. Today I’ve been able to spend some time with the kids for the first time and they’re adorable. It took them awhile to warm up from their shyness till after I brought them “bombo” (lollipops).

Here are some of the neighborhood children

The sign above the door exiting the guest house says “Why? Jesus is Worthy!” That’s a great reminder of why I’m here everytime I go out. That’s the great motivation and all we need ... but the smiles of these kids sure is a good bonus!