Monday, September 10, 2012

The latest from Kenya

Just wanted to take some time to share the latest in events from our friends in Kenya. Peb has just been there with another team. Here are a few excerpts from their email reports...

I want to let you know that we made it here intact with all luggage. The trip was a challenge and the enemy indeed tried to hinder our coming but was unable to overcome. To start, our initial flight out was delayed 3 hrs making our connection to Nairobi problematic. I was alerted to this when I awoke at 5am Weds and decided to check on flights. I called the airline and they were willing to put us through Atlanta. After arriving there, our next flight was delayed 2 1/2 hrs when the first plane was found unfit to fly due to the hydraulics controlling the landing gear found to be deficient. After arriving in Amsterdam, we had to wait 20 more mins for a gate. We ended up with 1 hr to change planes and all went well.  I sat next to a man on the Atlanta/Amsterdam flight who is from Nigeria and works for the World Bank as a consultant. He was able to tell me many things about how to make our work here be on a solid foundation and how to teach and train Africans in the way of good business. It was a divine encounter. So what the devil meant for harm in these delays, God worked for good and redeemed. So even though we were way behind leaving Atlanta for Amsterdam and under normal conditions not been able to connect to Nairobi, God gave us favorable winds the whole way cutting an hour off the flight thus making the connection smoothly. We traveled near 700 miles per hour the majority of our transatlantic journey. So thanks for praying.  - Peb

Like many before me I have been particularly struck by the children here. The weather has been cooler than usual so many are dressed in elaborate woolen hats with multicolored tassels and earflaps, accentuating the rag-tag assortment of American hand-me-downs. Old T-shirts; sports jackets, outlandish pixie-dresses, everyone in flip-flops.  Kids I've never seen before will smile and wave or come running to take my hand, gazing up with expressions so luminous and open-hearted,...they contrast tellingly with the look of menacing hardness you see in the faces of some adults walking down the main drag right outside the hotel. On our second day in town Peb and I took an ill-advised walk to the central market area, passing through downtown Machakos on our way. A deepening sense of blight and despair hung over the area. As we ascended a short flight of stairs into the market area we passed a dusty young man dressed in tatters tending a wound in his swollen yellow foot. Just inside the doorway eyes peered up from behind the baskets of muddy produce. The thought had just crossed my mind that I'd seen enough of this place, that there would be no good purpose served in venturing any deeper into the gloom, when a sudden commotion began. I looked down at my feet to see my passport and two hundred dollar bills lying in the dust at my feet. How could they have spilled from the money belt I wore secured around my waist? As I scrambled to reclaim my things a small crowd gathered. A man began tugging at Peb's shoulder, trying to draw us deeper into the market. We turned quickly and left. A minute later I realized the rubber-banded stack of shillings I'd brought for the trip was gone, a little over 600$. This was a tough blow early in the trip and yet the circumstances were so strange and strangely amiss. Living in a third-world country like Costa Rica, I am ordinarily hyper vigilant about thieves and pickpockets so it is unlike me to be careless about money and valuables. Although the weight of the shillings was considerable I never noticed anything falling from my person. Both Onesmus and Esther told me later that the market is a hotbed of witchcraft where spells aimed at causing confusion in the exchange of money charge the air.

Whatever it was that happened back at the market, there is little question that the line dividing supernatural agency from ordinary cause and effect is far more intermittent and unstable here than it is at home. A person in perfect possession of themselves, well-spoken in English, thoughtful and inquisitive, may in a moment be taken with fits and need to restrained to keep from harming themselves or others. We are clearly in a kind of spiritual war-zone with the forces of witchcraft, spells and imprecation on one side and the Holy Spirit on the other. Standing with Onesmus and Esther we are unquestionably on the winning side of the conflict and yet the battle is far from over. The sermon preached in church on Sunday was, accordingly, unlike anything I'd ever heard. In a vision Onesmus saw snakes on all sides and one directly in front of him that divided into forty. He is chopping furiously at them with his "panga" or machete when fire from heaven descends at last to consume the lot. The following day Peb called for a time of intercessory prayer after several hours of teaching the church leadership. I was rather expecting the mannered give and take I am used to at home, with each person adding a few words of thanksgiving and supplication in an orderly ceding of turns and little expected to find nearly everyone hitting their knees at once; in loud voices, in English, Swahili and other tribal dialects, some with tears, many praying in tongues, all laying siege at heaven's door for the power that binds this city to be broken. The din of their voices was something otherworldly, 'the voice of many waters'. The urgency bespoke the life and death struggle one sees taking place here.

On the television at night in my room I catch news of church burnings by Islamists in Mobassa or outbreaks of violence against women and children in recent tribal clashes. Anxieties are running high everywhere about the elections next year and the possible recurrence of anarchy in the streets. The violence of the 2007-2008 election cycle is still fresh in people's minds. Esther's kids, C and S, told me of days on end spent indoors because it was unsafe to go outside, of the air reverberating with gunshots and shelling. I cannot imagine what it would be like to raise kids in a place like this, having two of my own, ages 3 & 6. The strain tells in Esther's face when she talks about sending I away to boarding school next year at age 13, because it’s just not safe to keep her here any longer. The fear of poisoning is real and present danger to say nothing of the spiritual opposition from rival pastors and witchdoctors alike. Peril on all sides. That said, it would be hard overstate the resilience and good humor with which Onesmus and Esther face down the challenges of life in Machakos, Kenya. They are people of immense dedication and stamina. - David

Yesterday we traveled to the name sounds, it is off the beaten trail.  Miles of red dirt roads with ruts and rocks. You find people living much as they have for hundreds of years in this place. However it seems that the Lord has not forgotten and may be preparing these places for a harvest yet to come. James is the pastor there. Ten years ago he was called out of a good job by God to go there and then given dreams of his future work. Within 1 month a arriving, the Lord had given him more people than could fit into his mud building. He has also been given dreams of preaching to many Muslim people and they are then saved. He also has seen himself with many bags of corn to distribute to these people. What is sense is that when things continue to get hot with war in the Middle East and Northern Africa as prophesied in the Bible, many will be forced south looking for protection and food. I believe that God is strategically locating His people in Kenya which will receive many of these folks. James is one of them as well as many others that we are connected to in this area. At that time, there will be a harvest of many Muslims into the Kingdom. In a way it seems far-fetched, but I don't think it is. The Lord has been moving miraculously in this part of Kenya and is stepping up the work by making more and more connections. He is calling people out of their normal lives and giving them no option but to go. James refused the Lord 3 times, but eventually was told that if he cared more for his life and his children’s' lives then the lives of His people who are dying in their sins, then the Lord would destroy him and his family. So he went. This is a pattern that is repeated over and over again here in Kenya. I believe that the Lord is preparing a harvest and is putting His people in place for that harvest. - Peb

Please continue praying for the East Africa Zarephath Ministry and especially Onesmus and Esther as they work and minister and persevere under intense spiritual conditions in Kenya. The warfare is real and intense, but Jesus is the Victor and we, as believers, have our victory in Him.

Thank you!

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