The Last 24

20 02 2013

The Last 24 Hours

In the last 24 hours I am been told my teaching is not needed and asked to ransom a goat.    I rejoice in both.

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I do seminars about twice a month on Luke 10 Evangelism, House Church Planting and Discipleship.  During those lessons I teach some hard things about the teachings of Jesus, the role of leadership in the church, the Great Commission and many other topics that seem common to everyone but I have a bit of a twist.  We teach exactly what the bible says and do not filter it through Western Theology.

You see when I teach on the Great Commission I am pretty critical of making converts because that is not what Jesus commanded. He said make disciples.  Jesus also said as part of the Great Commission to teach people to observe all he commanded.    Jesus taught many things and doctrine was pretty low on his radar.  Jesus taught some radical things.  Turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, selling possession and giving to the poor.  His idea of leadership is quite revolutionary.  The greatest among you should serve the least and let no man call you father or teacher.  You might also be surprised to know that there are NO church buildings in the New Testament.  They met in houses.  It may shock you to realized that there is no sinners prayer in the bible, but rather repentance and baptism are presented as the entry points into the Kingdom of God.  I could go on.

In our world of the strong emphasis on grace and God’s love and Jesus being portrayed with glowing skin and hair that looks like he belongs in a Breck commercial in the 70’s, we omit some truths.   Jesus said  if you want to be His disciple you must hate your mother, father, children yes even your own life and come and follow Him.  That was Jesus alter call.  It is now mine.  I don’t beg people to come to Jesus to get saved.  I challenge people that it cost everything to follow Jesus.  He is Lord and you must obey Him as Lord.  We tend to try to be good.  We ask Jesus to forgive us when we aren’t.  That’s fine but Jesus said if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  Seems He was a bit more serious about sin.

I am sure by now you are wondering what the heck Glenn is doing.  You may agree with the elder of the church I just spoke at.  Throw the bum out!  Well, we did wind up leaving.  Now understand the pastor of this church was in a car wreck recently and not feeling well.  He asked a rather young elder to host me and be the churches leader in the seminar.  The pastor had read a book written by Marc Carrier that I give in advance of booking my seminar so the pastor is on the same page.  I wanted to make sure the pastor is certain he is comfortable with what I am going to teach.  I am blunt and bold in explaining it to him and REQUIRE  he read Marc’s book on Kingdom Expansion. This particular pastor had seen his church stall some time back and found even his leadership would not come to a planned meeting unless he fed them.  He was looking for answers and open to the concept of the house church and going door to door in evangelism.  He had decided he wanted disciples, since converts were not willing to participate in the work of the ministry.  We were on the same page.  However, it is a long walk from the pastors house to the church and the young elder was in charge.

After a day of teaching, just as we were preparing to take out 20 people on door to door witnessing I asked if there were questions.  The young elder raised his hand.  He did not have a question, but rather a dissertation as to all the things he disagreed with.  I listened for five minutes and then I began my answer.  I reminded him I had only quoted the bible.  I reminded him we were using Jesus model of making disciples and Jesus call to discipleship.  I reminded him of the many verses mentioning the church in the house and told of the amazing success of house churches all over the world.  Basically he rejected everything.  Since he was the leader and we realized that, in his mind, we were teaching things contrary to what he was perfectly happy with, we had to stop.  I told him that in light of his resounding rejection of our teachings, which he shared publicly to the whole group, we would withdraw and he seemed to think this was just fine.

Now the pastor has contacted us and apologized but for now he does not know what to do.  So we all wait and pray. Turns out the young elder was also the church’s paid full time evangelist.  No wonder he objected.  No wonder he had shared that they had professionals do the evangelism and that it was working just fine.  Although I was a bit shocked when I was told this enormous church that could obviously hold 500 people had only 70 in attendance.  No wonder the pastor was looking for answers.

This morning I went and shared the Gospel of the Kingdom with a widow named Colletta we have been helping.  She was saved as a young married wife but her and her husband fell away from the Lord.  He recently died and we stepped in to help her and her six children.  It has been great.  She has repented and is now attending our house church.  But she had a problem.  Her middle boy passed out after eating this week and she rushed him to the hospital.  Turns out he had Malaria and pneumonia.  He is home now and fine.  But the goat is gone.

Now understand Coletta has almost nothing.  She lives on a tiny piece of land in two shanties and a goat stall.  Now, there is no goat.  This means the children have no milk.   She borrowed the equivalent of 9 dollars to pay her sons hospital bill.  Here, you want to go home from the doctor?  You pay the bill.  One night, two days stay with Malaria medicine and doctors visits including nurse care? Nine bucks.  Great unless you don’t have any money.  So she borrowed it from a neighbor.  Well the neighbors here can leave something to be desired.  About half of them brew alcohol for a living.  So after a day and she had not paid back the money, he came and took the goat and then sold it for fifteen thousand shillings. Nine dollars.  She asked if I could ransom her goat.  I must say I bust out laughing.  I have gotten men out of jail, paid utility bills in America and bought groceries.  But I had never ransomed a goat.  I love Africa.  Everyday it is something new.  Some are funny and such a blessing.  Some are more challenging.

I left Collettas happy to be able to help my sister and chucking over retrieving a goat.  I left the church yesterday also in good spirits.  I realized the brother who rejected my message was probably just being protective of the pastor I am sure he loves.  His pastor may have never shared his disappointment over his church. The accident had prevented the pastor from being there. Perhaps the elder thought he would no longer be wanted or needed if we began Luke 10 evangelism.   In the end no harm done.  I know Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders almost everywhere he went.  This is really the first time anyone has publicly rejected what I have taught.  I love that young elder.  I love his pastor.  I hope I have young leaders working with me one day that would stand up for what they believe even when it is hard.    I appreciate the passion and the character it takes to stand up to a mzungu that has been teaching your leaders  for 14 hours in two days.  We must be merciful to those we disagree with and still stand strong for our convictions.  And sometimes we must rescue families by ransoming goats.  Its all in a days work here in Africa.  At least in the last 24 hours.





The Kingdom in the Slums

10 02 2013

I received word that two of the pastors I had held a seminar with on Expanding the Kingdom of God had planted six churches in the slums of Nairobi. I quickly scheduled a trip to go and encourage the new believers and connect with the work there in a real and personal way.

Upon arriving I found that ONE of the pastors planted six churches and the other eleven.  I determined to visit and speak to each church.  As you might imagine life in the slums is startling to the Western mind.  No infrastructure, no jobs little hope.  There are also few churches and little outreach.  At least the two that I visited.

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Most miss at least a day of meals a week and eat a limited diet of ugali and some vegetables.  Ugali is a corn mush made from boiled crushed corn with no seasoning and not much flavour.  But it is filling and that matters when you are hungry. Each house church I visited was actually a 15×10 room with a couch some chairs separated from the sleeping part of the house by bed sheets or sacks for privacy.  Some of the churches were just a few neighbors and others had over 30 members.  No windows, one door, a single light bulb, no running water or toilet facilities.  The streets are dirt and stone with sewage running down the streets.  This is where the children play.  The few schools are packed with children eager to learn.

I purposefully expressed my vision for the church there and asked about jobs and food.  It seemed that each church had one or two women with a vegetable stand or a couple sharing a sewing machine to provide income.  The others in the church walked the streets when someone would watch their children, in the richer neighborhoods and looked for work cleaning floors or doing laundry.  The men went out almost everyday in search of work as a casual laborer.  One man, in all the churches I visited had a regular job he worked at and got a regular check.  He loaded trucks.

Being an entrepreneur, I immediately began to scheme on sustainable solutions.  I asked the ones that could sew to show me their work places and explain their challenges.  One could sew most of the work but had to send parts of it out and pay others to do things like pleats due to her machine only did so much.  Another, was successful but due to the needs of her congregation she was drained to nothing helping others eat.  Another knew how to buy and sell used clothing but the lady she worked for had closed her business.

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My solution.  I asked if the sewing ladies would teach other ladies to sew if I agreed to purchase the newer machines to expand existing business models and do additional stitching eliminating the need to sub out work. Everyone like the idea.  I also introduced a new product of sewing bags using flour sacks that was quite popular in Arusha with tourist interested in getting a great African souvenir  while contributing to a worthy cause.  Finally, I agreed to fund the initial inventory for a used clothing shop if the lady with the skill set would agree to train and provide purchasing expertise to other women in a distant slum.  The wheels are turning on sustainable incomes for these ladies while they connect and serve one another.

Each lady understands that none of these programs are for their personal enrichment but rather to benefit the entire body of Christ.  The spirit of sharing and helping is entrenched in the poor in Africa and this element was easily understood and accepted.  We encouraged the believers and passed out bibles and literature.  I am going back in one month to begin the investment and follow up on the training.  New believers came to Christ on the visit and we are baptizing when I return, hopefully in a rented swimming pool.

God is doing great things.  In the short term we bought 40 kilos of rice and placed it in and elders home.  No one knows we are doing this and his job is to personally stay on top of needs and make sure no one is going without food.  There are many house churches all with many children.  I am honored and pleased with what is happening in these slums.

I told them all that Christians back in America loved them and were their brothers and sisters.  I took pictures of every church member present.  Most of the men were out looking for work.  But I want you to see the people and the environment and consider reaching out to serve them.  They are the least of these.  They are those that Jesus proclaimed, that when we serve them we are serving Him.  Will you feed Jesus?  Clothe Him, and give Him something to drink?  We are promised that on Judgement Day, that there will be a judgement for us to determine how we served Him.  Him, in the disguise of the Least Of These.  Come let us adore Him!  Email me at midtownglenn@gmail.com and asked me how.  Or go to http://kingdomdriven.org/glenn-roseberry and make a tax deductible donation through Paypal or your credit or debit card.  Image





My Sister Wears a Burka

8 02 2013

I sat in a room of missionaries at a conference I was obligated to attend from the agency that helped me get my visa.  I was not looking forward to this, but now I was electrified.  The men in this conference were all retelling their testimonies to the group.  About half the men were from Muslim backgrounds and told of wives and family being killed in front of them and losing their homes.  They were beaten and hunted.  They had come to countries that allowed them in as refugees but were pursued even there.  I wrote my first blog about them titled,  In the Presence of Giants: Victims of Radical Islam on this blog.    I shared their stories at that time but later became involved with the ministry of one of the men.

Ezra and Joe, another African Missionary, told me they were taking women off of the street that had come to Christ and were dismissed from their homes by their husbands, abandoned with the smallest children.  The husband kept the older ones that could work.  These women were the lucky ones.  Their husbands did not report them, harm them or kill them immediately so they had time to flee.  Now they were on the streets.  No home, no food, only their new found faith for comfort and the mercy of God.  I was told that some returned to Islam rather than starve or be hunted, or preyed upon by criminals.  Ezra and Joe took many in and provided housing in safe houses away from prying and unmerciful eyes.  Then they dropped a bombshell on me.  They knew of others but simply could not afford to care for them.  I was stunned.  How could this be?  They said they were doing all the could do and could only leave the others in God’s hand.
I have since written and raised money to save these women and also support the former Imams and Muslim leaders that come to Christ and are in hiding.  I understand the persecution of former Imams and evangelist.  I was not prepared for my last trip.
Upon arriving in this country,  last week I was met with stunning news.  One of the  new converts, Howa, recently only missing, was now confirmed dead.  I wanted to learn the details and was told only the lady that lead her to Christ knew the whole story.  We arranged a meeting.  We went to a Somali restaurant to met Ruth.  At first I did not know who was approaching out table as the lady approaching wore a full burka.  Turns out that is the perfect disguise for our persecuted ladies.  Ruth sat down and raised her facial piece and revealed an attractive and smiling petite lady in her mid 30’s.  I tried to immediately speak but was cautioned to wait.  As is the case many times in these meetings we have to wait till those with us who are understanding of the culture and risk can assess the situation.  We sit and drink tea but it is determined that we cannot speak other than casually.  We speak of food and different Somali dishes.  Then we leave and go to a coffee shop.  We drink coffee but the boisterous crowd will not stop engaging us directly and it is obvious this is a bad choice for a discreet conversation.  We move again.

Finally, we enter a restaurant with private booths and curtains.  The story unfolds.  Ruth I am told lost her own husband, killed in front of her very eyes in her home country.  Her children are being raised by her mother.  She has not seen them in 4 years.  She has slightly mishapped lips from a vigorous interrogation earlier in her Christian walk.  She smiles beautifully.  She begins to unfold the story of Howa.

A former Muslim man was pulled off of the street.  He was tortured for the names of other Christians like himself.  After some time he was told he would be released if he shared some names.  How many we don’t know.  He wrote down some names and was told if he wrote more he would be turned lose.  He filled the front and back of a page and they slit his throat.  Howa was on that list.  She was grabbed in front of her home.  Luckily her children were with her brother.  She was dragged behind the slum mid rise she lived in.  They searched her backpack and found an Arabic New Testament.  She frequently shared her faith with other Muslims and meet with the local underground house church.  They struck her in the head with a machete.  She fell to the ground where they left her.  The neighbors saw her but were afraid to help.  She bleed out over the night and it was confirmed she was dead the next morning.  Locals, not affiliated with the murder, poured oil over her body and burned it to protect the area from police problems.  We did not know she was dead.  Only missing.  This happens among refugees and normally means little.  It was troubling since she would never leave her children.  She has been missing since around Thanksgiving.  The story is now known for the first time.  Pieced together by the neighborhood, her brother and an anonymous informer.

Is Ruth on the list, she does not know. Ezra?  Not likely.  They don’t seem worried.  It is in God’s hands they say.  The world is not worthy of those who die for Him  I am sitting at a table full of men and women who accept that risk, live in poverty, share their faith, lead house churches and are constantly looking over their shoulders.  They find it hard to get  regular jobs as they are refugees.  When they get money they share it among themselves to eat and live.  I slip them money for rent and food.  We plan to take more women with children off the street.  Mostly they live four or five  in 12×12 rooms with a mattress and no furniture.  They cook some rice and add some vegetables and once or twice a month, meat.  When God blesses.  Their house church meetings are in these small rooms.  They whisper their worship.  They come and leave meetings staggered over hours of time to avoid detection.  They love Jesus and each other.  They don’t know you, but I told them you loved them.  I told them you sent me to love them and help them.  They want you to know they love you so much.  Greetings from Ruth, Ezra, Imam and many others.  You see my sister wears a burka and so does yours.

For other related stories see, Monday is Sunday on my blog to see a week in an evangelical Christians life that came from Islam.  (again Barrett you can link this if you want)