Part Three: The End of My First Year

8 09 2013

I landed in Dar es Salaam ready to get started, but things did not go as planned.  I am reluctant in this last post in this series.  There is so much that I simply cannot relate to you.  I would like to, but I am still working with many of the people that were part of my learning experience and some of that information causes me concern over relationships I value.  Perhaps it is better in a book published years from now.  But not too many details here.

Marc Carrier, my recently visited mentor in Kenya, was running at light speed when I left.  His model at that time included seminars teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, Luke 10 evangelism, the church in the house and discipleship.  Basically, applying the methods of our King Jesus Himself.  Jesus selected disciples whom He poured His life into.  He taught them the Kingdom Ways, Kingdom entrance and then He sent them out training them to go out in twos sharing the Good News.  Jesus sent out the 12 then He sent out the 70.  We have no reason to believe these were the only times He sent them out with clear instructions to preach the Kingdom Gospel, baptize, heal the sick and proclaim the Good News.

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Marc was being hosted in churches and by leaders all over Kenya and had a team of brothers and sisters that went with him on these trips to do these teachings.  After the first day and a half they took out people and went two by two and demonstrated these methods in person, practically modeling the evangelical part.  He did this every week and literally lead hundreds to the Lord and into repentance and baptism in a pretty short time span.  Many Kenyans spoke English and he was surrounded by potential translators and disciples ready to assist him in just a few months.

I hit the ground, not only inexperienced, but in a culture that spoke Swahili and tribal languages and were very traditional in their Christianity and their tribalism.  I had no translator and indeed had no idea where they would come from.  My model of taking a disciple, or man of peace that would become my translator, into the field on one on one evangelism was quickly smashed.  I interviewed Christians and learned right away that NO ONE wanted to jump on a bicycle with me and take a tent and head out into the bush.  That is just not something a new disciple, translator nor newly met brother wants to do.  I had people that loved what I shared but were NOT going to leave their families and go off with me.  Tanzanians are a very traditional people and everything in their tradition screams for them to fit in and cooperate with existing systems in society and in traditional church.

I hired a translator and started doing seminars like Marc.  After three or four I decided to go back to those churches and follow up and examine their progress.  There was none.  Tanzanians love to invite Muzungus in to speak and teach them.  They love rallies and tent meetings, big events and big productions.  That is what the Western church has taught them.  Frankly, they were a bit disappointed I did not come to do crusades.  That is what they wanted. So even when the listened to me teach and clapped and praised the seminar, the gains were short term.  They were amazed as we went out door to door sharing the gospel.  One brother in particular was astounded.  He had never seen anything like it.  We went out and lead a group to Jesus in repentance.  I taught we DON’T then invite them to church but rather we then go to them lead them in repentance, baptize them and get them to invite their friends, family and neighbors to come to their homes and learn about their new faith.  We plant a house church right there with those new believers and then disciple and train them to do the same thing.  We led Muslims to Jesus that first day.  The Psator returned to his church that afternoon and announced he had never seen anything like it.  He had tried to get to those same people for years.  I later found out that his efforts were to go out and invite them to come to church.  To Muslims, he told them that Islam was wrong and they needed to come to church and become a Christian.  I, on the other hand, simply shared the gospel of the Kingdom of God.  That there were two kingdoms.  Jesus was the  King of the Kingdom of God and Satan the king of this world system.  I shared about the cost of becoming a disciple and invited them to repent and enter the Kingdom of God.  The did.

I then instructed the leader to go to them the next day and take them bibles, as promise.  Then he was to schedule an immediate meeting to invite their neighbors to attend, in their home and begin the training I had demonstrated.  And oh yeah, baptize them.  Water baptism is an event that needs a bit of planning in Tanzania as in most parts, water is 200 ft down and not readily available for baptizing without a long journey.  This requires planning and transportation.  I had to go to anther seminar and would have to leave the follow up to this brother. I returned 10 days later.

I immediately wanted to know how it went?  Not so good.  We led  them to the Lord on Thursday of that week.  The leader never took them the bible.  He never followed up at all.  He told me they did not come to church Sunday so he decided they were not serious.  I immediately went and took them the bibles and got a Christian lady next door to begin meeting with them to do training.  These new believers were so poor their children played in the yard naked.  I asked the leader why he wanted them to come to his church?  He somehow did not digest anything I had taught and simply wanted these and other new believers to come to traditional church.  He had no intention of following my instructions.  Although he agreed with my teaching while there, it was evident he had no interest in house church.   I asked him if he really thought that someone who had naked children was going to come to his traditional church where some members drove cars and everyone dressed up like princes and princesses for each service.  I tried to explain how this was just one of the many reasons he needed to disciple them there. In their homes where they lived.   I soon learned that almost everywhere I went people enjoyed the seminar, were shocked at the response in the field but then never followed up on the teaching that I brought.  They simply wanted some new and exciting lessons from the Mzungu and had no intention of really changing anything or even trying anything new.  This was repeated over and over.

Eventually, I was invited to a very poor area and meet some pastors who had almost no building and only a handful of members.  I shared my usual message but I stayed to model the teaching for weeks afterwards.  I eventually began to feel this was God’s plan for me.  I moved in with one of the families and became one of them.  I shared all my meals with them, and simply did life together.  Eventually, I told them I wanted to move to the area and that lead to a wonderful opportunity.  They gave me a small piece of land and then came the big surprise.  Due to a family difficulty they became aware some distant family members wanted to sell their plots of land on their shamba, or small family farm.  They had been denied this request by Babu the leader of the clan in this tribe.  The Meru people have a strong tribe and adhere to the old ways.  They mostly dress Western but very modestly.  The distant family members were told they could not break up the family plot by selling to strangers. They jumped on this new situation of Babu giving me land and letting me move on the property.  How could they be denied the right to sell their land when he gave me land right in the middle of the property.  Me, a stranger. The solution?  I would not be a stranger.  I was formally, at least from a tribal way of thinking, adopted by Babu and become his son.  Now all Babu had done,  was give his own son land.  The right of every son.  To hold the deed to land on the shamba.  I am Wameru.

From there I began to plant the first house church then another and another.  We have four good ones now and others in the works.  Not long after this I was invited to come and do a seminar in Kenya.  I meet with a small group of pastors and held my normal seminar.  But like Tanzania, these were not middle class pastors with middle class congregations.  These were pastors that lived and worked in the slums.  They had terribly small and poor church buildings and congregations.  They had stagnated in recent years.  The prosperity gospel had a strong foothold in this area with promises of a way out and riches for all.  But of course the pastors of those churches moved out of the slums as soon as the congregation began to grow and “sowed seed”, money, in hopes of riches.  I later visited a couple of those prosperity teachers that now lived in very wealthy neighborhoods in what can only be described as mansions.  Well at least the prosperity gospel worked for them.   Some opened multiple churches and members flocked to them.  Pastors that were not interested in this get rich gospel were left with dwindling congregations and few ideas on growth. So these guys were looking for answers.

I assured them my teachings were not going to make them rich.  But that if they joined in the work of the Kingdom in a meaningful way, that the teachings of Jesus were the only way to go.  Jesus, I assured them, left the roadmap for Kingdom expansion.   I left but had no idea if they would follow up without me being there, as that was the case in Tanzania.

After about two months they called and said they had 6 house churches.  They were excited.  I quickly scheduled a return trip and found that actually, one pastor had 6 house churches and the other 9.  They admitted they were not prospering  financially but the Kingdom of God was exploding.  We trained more on discipleship and evangelism.  Then, if you have followed my facebook and blog post something amazing happened.

We meet with the leaders of each house church after another month or two to learn of their challenges.  I quickly learned that these folks were applying these teachings seriously.  The house church leaders were literally further impoverishing themselves by helping the poor, widows and orphans in their area.  Just as we taught.  You see we teach obeying Jesus.  Sacricifial giving, turning the other cheek, loving our neighbor, making disciples.  Caring for widows and orphans.  These ladies were taking their earnings and spending them on the body.  My kind of ladies.   I noticed several churches had at least two members that had job skills and in fact little businesses in the slums.  Many sewed.  I asked those that had skills, what they needed to grow their business.  For example the sewers needed an overlock machine.  A device that puts the finishing touches on clothing taking them from that home made look to the look of a well finished product, desirable to all.  These ladies had to pay someone else that owned a machine to do this work.  Owning one of these machines would cut their overhead and because they could now finish their own clothes and it would also create a new revenue stream by using the overlock machine on other peoples clothing.  I saw my opportunity.  I asked them if they would be interested in teaching other women to sew and in return I would buy them on overlock machine.  I did this in faith as I had no money for such a purchase.  They agreed. I further stipulated that once the other, newly trained women, got good at their skill I wanted the established sewers to give their old machines to these new ladies and I would buy them new ones.  I was confident that if I blogged about this the Lord would place it on the heart of others to give for the machines.  I was right.

Later we inserted a new product line of purses and things exploded.  Now some of my ladies are actually hiring unsaved people from the area and training them as well and leading them to the Lord.  I never saw that coming.  Then the newly trained house church members learned to share their faith.  And now we have over 30 house churches.   People that came to Jesus 6 months ago are now going out two by twos and leading others to the Lord.  Hopefully, starting new house churches.

Later Marc Carrier, my in country mentor, came to Nairobi and shared for about 30 minutes, our mission and the Gospel of the Kingdom, with a brother that worked among Muslims leading them to Jesus through one on one evangelism.  I began to visit with him as he stayed in the same missionary house I stayed in, when visiting Kenya.  To him it was a safe house.  He had fled another country due to persecution and was living there.  He had been poisoned, beaten and put in a comma by radicals. I began to work with him each month and now we have 7 house churches in the refugee area.

We have a long way to go.  But we have come far.  I have learned I cannot teach alone.  I have to model.  I have to demonstrate what I teach.  When I do, like Jesus did, people get it.  If I want them to share with widows, I have to share with widows with them.  Want them to use the proper teachings in discipleship? Then you use the exact methods you want them to use, with them, all the time.  Jesus let the disciples watch Him do it, then he sent them out.  Hands on real discipleship.  We are not meeting oriented, we are disciple oriented.  Go into all the world and MAKE DISCIPLES.  Not converts, not believers, disciples. Disciples who make disciples, who make disciples.   Pray for me as we continue on this adventure in the Kingdom of God.  I am just a student.  I have so much to learn.  I am flawed, but God is Great.  And yes God is Good.  Especially here in Africa.  And I can’t help but add, He is good to me.

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One response

8 09 2013
Elizabeth McEwen

Dear Glenn!

This is so humbling to read, and so encouraging. We love you in the Lord, dear brother and keep you and this wonderful work of God in our prayers.

My Issy has been spending much time in prayer and is looking into the possibility of attending Valley Forge Christian College, which is nearby. She has also started to develop a lot of boldness in sharing her testimony of deliverance and evangelizing in public places with one of the elders from her college group – quite something for this hitherto very “shy” teenager. I know she would love to drop everything and move to a remote area to witness to those who have never heard God’s kingdom message, but she also knows she needs to listen to the Lord and take the steps He gives to her. She said she has been greatly encouraged by your messages. Thank you!

In Him, Liz McEwen (& Issy)

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