You Can’t Make a Disciple If You Are Not A Disciple

17 10 2015

With_His_Disciples027You cannot make a disciple if you are not a disciple. If you are not a disciple, then you are something Jesus did not call men to become and something He never sent men out to make.  Jesus gets to set the criteria as to what  a disciple is.  We do not care what the dictionary or the lexicon says a disciple is.  We are addressing what Jesus says a disciple is.   Theologians don’t get to define discipleship, your pastor does not and neither do you and I. Jesus called men to become disciples repeatedly. Here is how He calls disciples and defines disciples.

Luke 14:

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Some translations render the closing statement, “whoever does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. Jesus not only came to make disciples but He also commanded disciples to go on and make more disciples. See the Great Commission. It is His method of expanding the Kingdom of God. But I really like the wording of the verse listed here.  “Any of you who does not renounce all that he has…”. Renounce. Not a word we hear in modern Christianity. To renounce something is to formally declare one’s abandonment of a claim, a right or possession.  I have a question.  Have you formally renounced or abandoned your claim, your right to all but Christ.  Have you renounced your right to your own possessions, your own life and chosen Jesus and Him alone?

I am a disciple maker and that should excite you. It should excite you because, frankly, I am, really, just a regular guy.   I am a man of average intelligence, average education and like you, for most of my Christian life, no one ever trained me on how to make a disciple. I now understand, I could not make a disciple, because I was not even a disciple myself. I began to understand that I had not answered the call to be a disciple, because somewhere along the road after surrendering to the Lord Jesus, I was talked out of actually following Him. As a new believer, I read of giving up everything for Jesus.  But as I shared this understanding I was told by leaders and my peers that for various reasons, Jesus did not really mean all that “give up everything, and hate the world stuff”.  Seems He really just wanted me to be willing to be really committed, and not to actually live out that commitment.  Being a new believer, I assumed these experienced Christians knew what was best. I became like them.    About 6 years ago  I met  Marc Carrier, and  we began to discuss, the Kingdom of God, real discipleship and real disciple making. I read some books with a new perspective.  I came back to my original position of actually following Jesus.  I came to understand that I needed to “renounce” all else. For the first time it became clear that Jesus wanted my total allegiance. I had to abandon the rhetoric of Western Christianity and follow Jesus in order to heed the call to become a disciple and make disciples myself.  This was God’s Master Plan.

I am blessed to walk with  Marc as he disciples me,  because he is one of the only people I have ever met that is going to the lost, leading them into genuine repentance, faith and baptism and making disciples, that are making disciples.  Since that is the Great Commission, I am following his lead. I am sure there are many others making disciples. It would be awesome if you could find one and like me, learn from them. Trust me, you can’t do it Jesus’ way by using the internet.  You can’t do it from reading this post.  Sorry, I hope that was not your expectation.  Discipleship is  a personal interaction between a practitioner and an apprentice.

Most of us are not disciples ourselves.  We are  “just” believers. Some are bible teachers, pastors, construction workers, mothers and other professionals that think the transfer of information is making a disciple. We think the people we share with are disciples.  But neither them, nor most of us, have ever been given the call to become a disciple, nor chosen to pay the price of discipleship. Not formally anyway.  Of course, we do transfer information in making disciples, but that is only part of the process. You can go buy books on discipleship if you choose. But the books I have read are written by men that don’t actually “have” disciples.  Marc, actually has disciples that are making disciples. Now, after being discipled by Marc, I do too.  You can be and have disciples also, and I hope that is your intention. I assure you it is God’s intention for you.

First in Luke 14 we see how He defines a disciple or if you prefer we see the actual CALL to discipleship. He is not asking people to “get saved” believe in the price He will pay on Calvary, nor is He begging them to become a Christian. He does not even promise them heaven. No, He is calling them to give up EVERYTHING and come and follow Him.  He promises life now and it is called eternal life.

You and I were mostly taught one of two things. Either, everyone that is saved is a disciple or a person becomes a real disciple through study and prayer and a lifetime of slowly growing closer to Jesus.  Then in some super spiritual state,  some can somehow become so mature they are a disciple.   There are other fuzzy definitions and most don’t even think being a disciple is important. Jesus did. But our classroom, white board definitions, power point presentations and sermons are not the methods He used. Why don’t we look at what Jesus did? Why don’t we study the one that actually gave us the mission and made disciples that turned the world upside down, instead of some well meaning bible teacher that has never actually made a disciple, that has made a disciple.   Why don’t we look at Jesus first, before we do anything. I ask, why do we call Him Master and do not do what He commands or follow His methods? His first words after repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of God is at hand, are these:  Follow Me. Why don’t WE answer the call to discipleship and call others to do the same?

I would like to ask you to make a very startling realization.  And that is that you have most likely never been told of the call to discipleship and thus have never heeded it. Like me, you need to come to a place to confess an obvious truth.  No one has ever called you to BE a disciple.  Thus you have never chosen to become one. You  think you want to be one.  You love Jesus.  You want to follow Him.  But you have been told you can’t or it is not important or that verses talking about grace and works somehow mystically erased everything the King of Kings commanded us to do.  I decided to become a disciple.  You may already be one.  But you must chose. Our calls to pray a prayer, believe the four spiritual laws, or a set of orthodox beliefs in order to go to heaven and be “saved” are seen no where in scripture, being practiced by  Jesus or the Apostles.  As a result, unlike Jesus, we can’t accomplish God’s plans using man’s methods. We use the culturally attractive, best practices of the latest fad to get the “unchurched” to come to our meetings, to occasionally listen in to a sermon while being entertained by lights, sound and a warm fuzzy message on how great we are or can be if we would  just “get saved”.  This was not Jesus way. Our warm and fuzzy call to the lost so they can go to heaven and have their “best life now”,  must be replaced with the call to surrender everything and take up your cross and follow Him. Jesus made a call and it was to come and die that you may live. No wonder people in the church will compromise on marriage, entertain pornography and fall sway to the whims of the world.  We call them to a nice easy and better life full of all the world has to offer with the added bonus of eternity at the end and some really cool people to hang with in church till then.  Contrast that to Jesus call to give up and renounce everything. For three centuries the church suffered in torture, refused to renounce their Lord and paid the ultimate price.  They were known for living holy lives, feeding the poor and their love for the least of these.  This is the fruit of a people called to discipleship.

Luke 14, and other text repeatedly make calls of total commitment. You must give up all and come and follow Him. It is hard to be confused when Jesus lays down the requirements and relates to us to hate or choose Him over every relationship in our life, take up an instrument of death and yes, give up everything, including ourselves and follow Him.

He does this  in Luke and again in Matthew 10:

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

And of course most of us never dropped our nets.  Andrew and Peter literally dropped their nets to follow Jesus.  Matthew got up from the tax collectors table and walked away. Zachias seems to remain  in his profession and reordered his priorities to the Kingdom of God.  But let’s be honest, many of us have fashioned our lives around our careers to such an extent they would need to be, almost literally,  blown up and started over again, to follow Jesus.  As a business owner I spent 80 hours a week working.  We spend the vast majority of our time, focusing on our careers and sleeping. Our spare time in the West is mostly spent entertaining ourselves or trying to replace purpose with “fun”.  God has a bigger plan.  And we are accountable to follow Him, not our self made plans.  I will tell you there is no joy like serving the King of Kings.  No adventure like obeying His will and commands.  One man stated once that we were made for the  Kingdom of God.  We were engineered to be happy, challenged and fulfilled walking the Kingdom way.

I spoke at a traditional church years ago.  I stepped down from the podium and pointed at a young man and ask him what he did.  What was his job?  A teacher, he replied.  I went around the room asking the question to others.  They answered,  doctor, salesman, administrator, student, intern, entrepreneur.  I then asked if they followed Jesus.  They all nodded.  I told them then, their job, their mandate, was to make disciples.  They only taught, studied, managed and ran their business to fund and provide for their true career. Making disciples.  I was not trying to make a point of semantics, but of a necessary priority change.  They needed to “drop their net” and follow Jesus.  For most in the building it would require a counting of the cost and a radical change in lifestyle. We glaze over verse after verse where Jesus calls for a radical lifestyle shift to follow Him and think, wow that is cool.  Jesus said some radical things, back in His day.  Then we act like they have nothing to do with us.  I have a new paradigm  for you.  Jesus meant them for you.  And I want to tell you that you need to renounce your current way of viewing the world, your career and yes that is your job I am talking about.  In the American culture sports, jobs, money and advancement are what we place the most time, energy and money on, in order to aquire the American Dream. Oh, we Christians put a Christian spin on it, but we don’t really renounce anything of the world, but somehow imagine it does not matter, even as Jesus says it does.

Jesus makes some profound calls to discipleship. Let’s look at some.  First, the rich young ruler. We all get all bothered that Jesus asked him to sell all he had and come and follow me and then make a million excuses and run to theologians who assure us that Jesus did not mean what He said. It was just said for that bad young rich guy. But Jesus repeated that call to his disciples, the church practiced it in the book of Acts and the history of the early church tells us that sacrifical giving and lifestyle choices to make room for serving God were the norm.

 

Here is a quote from Ignatius a personal disciple of John.

r] I write to you in the midst of life, yet lusting after death. My lust has been crucified, and there is no fire of material longing in me, but only living water speaking in me, saying within me, Come to the Father. I have no delight in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire no longer to live after the manner of men. Ignatius: to the Romans (A.D. 35-105) ch.7

Here is a section from The Shepherd of Hermas, some believe was written while the Apostles were still alive.  It is clear this was the understanding of the church, renouncing the worldly pursuits and following Jesus.

He said to me; “You know that you, who are the servants of God, are dwelling in a foreign land; for your city is far from this city. If then you know your city, in which you shall dwell, why do you here prepare fields and expensive displays and buildings and dwelling-chambers which are superfluous? He, therefore, that prepares these things for this city does not purpose to return to his own city.

O foolish and double-minded and miserable man, do you not perceive that all these things are foreign, and are under the power of another?” Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 30

Where did they get such crazy ideas, these men that lived and walked among the disciples? Why, from the Apostles that were discipling them!  And they turned the world upside down.  Take the Apostle John for instance:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16

Back to the concept of giving up everything for the Kingdom of God.  This time the instructions are not to the rich young ruler, but to men that were already following Jesus and NOT rich.

Luke 12:
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I was taught the rich young man had a big problem, but that this hard teaching was only in his case. Apparently I was misinformed. Jesus repeated it to His own key men.  I suspect it is recorded in these two instances, not because He only said it twice, but because it is something Jesus talked about to crowds often.  But let’s not get hung up on the money aspect just yet. The disciples must have been looked at as irresponsible, crazed fanatics by their friends and family. They abandoned a career in the family business.  Matthew had it made as a tax collector.  He was set for life.  Should you chose to become a disciple and thus a disciple maker you will have to reorder your life.  Jesus was not speaking platitudes.  He was not giving a three point sermon.  He was teaching us and telling us how to follow Him and be and make disciples. If your career has you consumed so much that you don’t have enough energy to read your bible for more than a few minutes and pray before bed, attend church a couple of times a week and visit your Facebook buddies and cheer each other’s “Christian” post while bemoaning the decent of mankind, then you have a life designed to be something other than an disciple.  Again, then you are something Jesus never called men to be and never sent men out to make.

One man Jesus called, said let me go bury my father. Jesus said let the dead bury the dead, but you go and preach the Kingdom of God.

Another said he would follow Jesus anywhere and Jesus pointed out the cost. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nest, but the Son of man has no place to lay His head.

Another says I will follow you but let me go home first and say goodbye to my family. Jesus said no one putting their hand to the plow who turns  back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.

Back to Luke 9.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

How about that for an “alter” call?  What was Jesus’ point in all these statements? They must have truly upset the very people that were wanting to follow Him.  I believe that is the point.  Jesus wants to “upset” your life.  He actually does want you to renounce your former goals and direction and take on Kingdom goals and His mission.

You are reading this because you have an interest in disciple making.  But again, you cannot make a disciple, until you are a disciple.  And the call to be a disciple is the call to renounce and give up everything and come and follow Jesus.  You cannot ask another to do this while not having done it yourself.  Mark 1 and Matthew 4 say that the disciples dropped their nets at once and went and followed Him. They walked away from their family businesses. They walked away from any normal life, possibly damaging their livelihoods and destroying their reputations.   Depending on your career situation you may merely need to reorder your time away from work. I ask, have you dropped your nets?  Only you can decide to be a disciple.  Only you must work out what it looks like, in YOUR life.

For me, after leaving a career of  being an entrepreneur, I purposefully determined to look for something to pay my bills and leave enough for me to help others while funding my work in the Kingdom.  I was working to disciple six men from  terrible backgrounds in the poorest two zip codes of America.  We met one week night, spent almost all Saturdays together actually serving others, sharing and doing life together.  Then we often worshipped together on Sunday’s and spoke all during the week about life issues.  We ate together and mowed each others lawns. We meet informally and did, life together and  shared with the lost. While I went to work each day, it was to fund my endeavors for the Kingdom.  Not to keep up with the Joneses, improve my life on this earth or make myself comfortable.

I have a brother in the states that has turned down promotions that would have consumed his time and limited his ability to reach out to the lost and make disciples.  Another, that has chosen to live in a very simple apartment and drive an older car so that he can maximize his resources for the Kingdom.  Only you know what you need to do to make disciples.  But you must drop the nets of this world to take on the yoke of your Master.  You can not serve God and mammon.  It is impossible.

In 1 Corinthians 9:8 Paul tells us that God is able to bless us abundantly  so that we can have all we NEED and have enough left over for “every good work”.  Jesus tells the crowd of listeners, surely containing the poor, tradesmen and the more  well to do, to not worry about food or clothing.  We thought these were pretty words and admired them as well written  beautiful prose.  Jesus was telling His disciples how to live this life of discipleship.

You expected a a simple “Ten Steps to Disciplemaking” article or book.  Sorry.  Jesus said it cost everything.  And when you change your allegiance from the values and priorities of the world and become a disciple it changes everything.  And for many of us that means our careers, finances and our place in society.

I did not write the verses and it is not my teaching.  It is the clear, consistent teaching of Jesus.  Mammon is not just money, but all that it brings.  You must choose God or mammon. The bible promises you will hate one and love the other.  I suggest this is not an emotional love and hate, but a love and hate that can be measured in time allocation, the expenditure of money and resources,  energy spent and passion applied.  Who or what do you love when you work 50 hours a week at a secular job, pouring in your heart and soul and then pray for 10 minutes a day, read your bible for 20 and attend church three hours a week? Again, who are you serving when almost all your time is dedicated to your career?  Or worse, your leisure. Where is your passion going.

Jesus tells a parable that is a fact of life.  The story of the soils. Seed falls on many different types of “hearts” in the lesson.  The seed falling among some ground refers to someone who hears the word, receives it with enthusiasm, but the worries of this life and the lure of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mt 13:22.  We imagine we are immune.  We are not.

Now, right now, you have a hundred things racing through your mind. “What is this nut, Glenn, asking me to do? Quit my job and go into full time ministry? I thought that I was going to learn how to make a disciple. You know, how to teach a discipleship class or something. Perhaps a three point lesson or a get a discipleship manual”. Perhaps “The Five Simple Secrets of Being a Disciple Maker!” Sorry, friends, only Jesus gets to set the standard. His call makes men drop their nets, blow up their lives, give up their dreams. Renounce our former direction and come and follow Him. It sounds a lot like true repentance.

Jesus is asking you to turn in and abandon the American Dream for the Kingdom Dream. He set the standard on being a disciple. Who gave us permission to lower that standard. (Quote from Marc Carrier). And dear brother you can’t make a disciple, till you are one.

So before I can give you any information on technique, teachings, or other information I have to make sure you understand YOUR cost. It not only cost everything to become a disciple, but again, you can never make true disciples until you are one. You will reproduce after your own kind. So if you don’t surrender all and become a disciple to His standards, then you will reproduce mutants. Half breeds and unfit agents for the Kingdom. If you reproduce at all.

Now, I was really ready to hear this message when it came to me. I was blessed as I began my journey to becoming a disciple by some books God provided.    The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down, by David Bercot, The Gospel according to Jesus by Marc Carrier and Radical by David Platt.  Read them. There is now another book I can reccomend by my mentor Marc Carrier that will give you a look into making disciples on the mission field at home and abroad, using bibical methods.  It is called, Pioneering the Kingdom.  Get it and read it.

Don’t forget, the rich young ruler walked away sad.  Because he had much.  I hope you don’t.  Will you drop your nets in this life and become fishers of men?  Don’t quit your job. But, it could come to that for some of you.  Seriously.  A career decision you made before you surrendered everything to Jesus, was likely a decision that relects a different set of loyalties than those required to be and make a disciple.  You can’t have two masters.

I was never commanded in the Word to be a publisher. I was commanded to make disciples. Before, I was many things. I was a publisher, a business owner and entrepreneur.    And before I became a disciple,  I started sharing my faith every Saturday at a ministry. I stopped tailgating and drinking at football games. I led 267 people to pray the sinner’s prayer in about 18 months. Later, I began to understand the vast majority never grew. The seed seldom took. There was little fruit. I began to seek God about making disciples. I read the books I mentioned and I met Marc Carrier. I was never the same. I realized that being a good entrepreneur or publisher meant squat to God. He called us all to make disciples who obeyed ALL that Jesus commanded.

And that is where I am going to take you next.

I am going to ask you to count the cost, but you can’t even count the cost if you don’t know what it is. When Jesus laid down Luke 9, 14 and Matthew 10, He did so to people that had heard the Gospel of the Kingdom. They heard that they should lay up NO treasure on the earth. Learned that how they treated the least of these would impact eternity.  They understood the radical cost of turning the other cheek and loving even their enemies. You can’t make a disciple unless you are one. And Jesus defines an important aspect of making disciples in the Great Commission and it will be in our next lesson. Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And my dear brother and sister, He commanded some radical things.

The early church obeyed Him and turned the world upside down. You cannot teach others to obey what you don’t even believe needs obeying. You cannot teach others to obey, if you don’t obey. Like I said, you cannot make a disciple if you are not a disciple.
I hope you are not turning away, like the rich young ruler.  You can’t love this world and follow the Lord.  Read those books. Pray and question everything you thought you knew about being and making disciples. But soon we will ask if you want to come and follow Jesus.

God bless you and please pray for me.





The Tale of Three Widows

23 07 2014

Many of you have seen me post about widows from time to time.  It seems it is near the heart of the Lord as well.  The first chapter of James tells us that true religion is to visit widows and orphans in their time of distress.  And to help the least of these is to actually, help Jesus Himself.  You have told me to let you know about needs so here we go.  I have three opportunities.

 

IMG_1785

You may remember Miriam. I just baptized her and she came to the Lord from Islam. She was living on public land and we knew that some day she would have to move.  We have found her a great piece of land of over an acre for 250 dollars.  A great deal for farm land. She would be able to live near another brother and his wife and family. We will build her a mud home but need wood for window shutters and doors and frames for a tin roof.

zachariah

This is Zacharia. Her house literally burned down as I was sharing on the Kingdom of God , repentance and surrender to Jesus. I already knew she was in need as a sister told me she only had one dress. Now all her possessions are gone.  She is a Maasai and dearly loved among the Meru sisters. The amazing thing is that she never told me of any need nor mentioned her house burning down in our next meeting. The other sisters had to tell me. I don’t think she would ever ask for a thing. She dearly loves the Lord and told me that He was her everything. Her own mentally disturbed son burned down her house while he was in it.  We will build her a mud home, but need wood for frames, shutters and doors. Then we will put on a tin roof.

ditirosa

Ditirosa, is left with her five children after her husband, Naftali, pictured here died of HIV. She has been given some land and will build a mud home.  Like the others we need wood, tin and supplies. The children are living with others in the house church till we can get her house built.  We hope to have her family reunited soon. Yes we are concerned with her having AIDS as well.  We will address that right away.

Well you have the story of our three widows.  I hope you will join us in prayer, giving and support of the least of these.  You can make your tax free donation at kingdomdriven.org/glenn-roseberry .

Your brother,

Glenn

 

 





MIssional Immersion

8 04 2014

Immersion: It’s a process

There are many types of missional approaches a person can take. Immersion as a missional approach has many benefits to offer. It is also very difficult. It is the approach I have chosen or rather felt called to. To be more specific, vulnerable immersion. The vulnerable is added to actually increase the level of immersion. In immersion missions we live, eat, work and serve practically the people we are called to reach. To be vulnerable is to also, NEED, the people we serve. I came with many preconceptions. I was going to live with the locals and serve them directly. I had the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and with that I was going to teach them to obey the commands of Christ. As I began I found I bore little lasting fruit. I learned I needed to seek to understand before I could be understood. Paul did a bit of this in walking around the Greek city of Athens trying to learn how to best relate to the city he was determined to approach with the Gospel. Jesus instructs us to go in vulnerable when He models teaching disciples to go out without purse, extra clothing and food for the mission work. They were intentionally going out needing to find a person of peace to provide housing, food and a segue into the community. While I teach going house to house to share the Gospel, Jesus says to STAY in one place after finding the person of peace, living and eating with them and using them as a connection to the community around them. It is genius. That is what I have succeeded in personally doing in Tanzania.

 

Image

I am stared at, misunderstood and imposed upon, by Western standards, daily. I cannot avoid it. It is the price I pay. Sometimes I yearn to simply be left alone for a bit and just to regroup. This, too, is not understood. We Americans, in particular,  are an individualistic group. Perhaps me, more than most. By the very nature that a person leaves their homeland to go and reach another person, they are usually very  individualistic. In Africa, the individual is not what is important. Rather it is the network of friends and family that make up the community or tribe that matters most. One’s peers from school, your age group from school, family and the social network one forms in society, is the very foundation of life. There were no reliable banks or institutions to rely on for thousands of years here so this was a matter of survival during hard times. And it works quite well, while it is foreign to Westerners.

By immersing ourselves into the lives of the people we serve we remove walls and barriers. Cultural, stereotypical and practically. We go in poor, since we serve the poor, and remove as much of the stigma of being the rich white person as much as possible. It is never gone, but we better understand each other and have to deal with these preconceptions head on. So many things are baffling to the Western mind and in reverse, so much about us is baffling to the Africans I seek to serve. We are viewed through the lens of popular culture that says we are bright, rich and almost magical. It seems we have all the answers and power. While saying this, we are also a mystery. To a person, even many generations removed from the animist beliefs of their ancestors, the Africans still have many animist beliefs informing their perceptions and forming a worldview very different from a Westerner. In Animism, if a person is more successful and has an advantage over others, as Westerners do, we have “it”. They don’t know what “it” is but we have it. To an Animist mindset, a person can gain this advantage by witchcraft, being in tune with mystical ways or perhaps some even more puzzling way. While an African may be a Christian, these past beliefs greatly influenced their parents and peers for hundreds of years. They are not removed by simply educating them differently.

 

I recently read a story about a student from India. She was in Med school.  She was going to one of the best universities in England.  On the last day of class she turned in her paper.  She was an excellent student and very confident of her getting a high score.  She turned to her professor and told him as she went out the door that she had now learned what the West had to teach her.  She had seen the bacteria and viruses under the micro scope and knew how to treat disease using Western methods.  However, she told the professor that in her country they KNEW how these killing diseases came to be in a person.  To her professors horror, she announced they came into being as invisible witches bit people on the back. She had heard all he had to teach and all the education he could give but still held to her animist beliefs.  Education will not fix these cultures.

 

Below I will give a few examples but to truly study some societal situations I recommend a book call, African Friends and Money Matters. Money, time and communication are the areas where we see these conflicts and misunderstandings confront both cultures in their most blatant ways. Family could just as well be included in that list.
Concerning family, let me make an observation. In an African commentary I found a very interesting observation that shed light on family in Africa. In the bible, in Genesis, we are taught that we are to leave our past family and cleave to our wife. The two become one.  In this commentary, African leaders pointed out that this was not part of the African culture and their perspective has helped me understand things I observe much better. In Africa a man may negotiate with the parents of the wife to pay for her. It is sometimes called a bride price, and can look like this. The women is of value to the agrarian lifestyle here as a laborer. Women do the majority of the mundane farming. They weed, plant, cook, raise the children and harvest in many places, with very little help from the men. As such, they are a valuable part of the family’s success and survival. When a man wants to marry a daughter he is asking to take a valued laborer with him to wed and start a new family. She will be missed and her contribution gone. As such, depending on the tribal context, he may “purchase” her with cattle, money, goats or all of these. In fact, he may make payments from time to time to compensate for her loss his entire marriage. He will be called upon during times of difficulty and need for compensation.  She will go to live with him and contribute not only to his home, but to the shamba, or family farm, owned by his parents and or patriarchs. But she is STILL part of her parent’s family in many ways she will stay connected through communication and perhaps never truly be regarded or accepted into his family in an intimate way. The slums I work in are made up mostly of women. They come here due to a common theme. Their husbands died or fell out of favor with the home family,  and then died and they came here to survive. Most were thrown off the shamba of the husband soon after his death since they have no right to the land or home. They all belonged to the husband and with him gone the home can best be used for other family members. This is most prevalent among the poor. Many can’t go home to their parents  as their position has been filled by another by now and since they have perhaps 5-10 mouths to feed, they may be perceived as a liability. So they are not welcome to their parent’s home. They wind up homeless or in the slums.

The African leaders in the commentary made this curious situation clear to me. I saw it everywhere but did not understand the dynamics. We can quote the bible verses and teach all we want on things being otherwise. But only true discipleship and the embracing of new Kingdom values can replace these old values. I seriously doubt that outside the Kingdom of God and the influence of the Church, this situation will not change, if at all, for many, many generations. Africans don’t embrace change like the West does. The teachers in this commentary were admitting this was a very alien biblical teaching that needed to be addressed. I agree.
Personal space and possessions are another area of great adjustment for me. It is not uncommon to get on the small buses in Tanzania called matatu’s that are designed to carry 11 people in a very crowded environment and have as many as 27 people on the bus when we try to disembark. This is normal here and viewed as acceptable. I have even been in a restaurant eating alone and have people come in and sit at my table to eat. They can’t imagine my wanting to be alone. Besides, it is very interesting to meet new people here and white people, wazungus, have “it” so meeting one and befriending them is viewed as potentially very beneficial. I chose to be immersed but of course no one prepares you for these types of things. Complete strangers, some with noble, curious and good intentions approach me everyday wanting to greet me and become my friend. I simply can’t befriend everyone here. And of course there are those that have less than noble intentions in meeting me. They just see me as an ATM machine of sorts and perhaps may even want to lure me away and rob me. Though this is very rare in Tanzania. Robbing whites I mean, in an obvious, put a knife to your throat kind of way. It is more common in other countries like Kenya and the Congo.

I have had my personal belongings given away to perfect strangers when I was gone out of town. I had three pairs of sandals. A man visited a family member and his sandal broke. So my host family just took one of my extra pairs and gave them to the man. Without asking or really telling me. I had a very nice pair come up missing. The next day I see a stranger with some on just like mine. I asked about it and it was explained to me that he had a need and I had three pairs so they gave them mine. OK. I could have reacted like a good Westerner and told them that I had a reason for those sandals and that I would be happy to help but that it was only polite to be given the opportunity to chose to help. One pair of sandals  was to be a gift for a friend coming to Africa and was a special type used only by the Masai.  Instead I said, great, now I understand. When you have two cloaks and your neighbor none give them a cloak. Even if you don’t get to make that call. I had to laugh to myself on that one.

Money is perhaps the most baffling to us in the West. When we want money we go to the bank, we take a second job, or pull out our debit or credit card. Here, a person goes to their friends. It is actually considered selfish to save money. If a person is seen by a friend in a bank here they will frequently tell others “you did not see me here”. They smile at each other knowingly. You see there is always such need and friends and family are so financially connected, that there is always a need to be met in your circle of connections. Everyone has borrowed and loaned to their friends. So everyone owes someone something all the time. To save is to selfishly hoard here. When a person has a windfall, of sorts, they frequently and quickly start building a home. Even if they only have money for a foundation or a wall they will quickly pay someone to build it. Even if they may take many years to complete it in this piece meal manner they proceed. It is the only way to keep any of one’s earnings honorably. African is full of partially built houses. They are literally everywhere.

I frequently, and that means almost daily, have people I know and strangers come to my door asking for money. This is very frustrating for Westerners. At least until you understand how community works. An example was a widow down the road. She came to my house and explained where she lived. Her son was going to have a formal engagement ceremony. There would be a feast, requiring food, rented chairs and perhaps entertainment. I did not know this lady. But here it was a normal request for a neighbor to make, even if you don’t really know them. By contributing you are, in effect, joining the community. You are deciding to connect with this other human being. To turn them away is risky. It is always best to give something. If you can’t you simply must, let them know that you can’t now, but that you sincerely hope that they will come back the next time they are in need. You must press the issue. It is vital for your position in the community. I gave about eight dollars. A solid gift in this community.

I was at first very taken back by this. As a Westerner, we are taught to never beg or if possible to never even ask close friends for help unless we are desperate. And this desperation is very humbling or even humiliating to us. Here it is expected and of great value in defining relationships. I had a lady down the road needing to pay a huge medical bill. Had she come the first several months I was here I would have felt very burdened and in fact, put upon, to help her. She needed about 2000 US dollars for a huge medical bill for a treatment that had saved her son. She had borrowed, somehow, about half of the money and now if she did not pay it back she would lose everything. She had raised half of it through her network connections but still needed a thousand. She came to me. I now understood she was giving me another opportunity to connect with the community. I now realized that, while I was welcome to pay it all, I was also welcome to simply do what I thought was appropriate giving my financial circumstances and my desired relationship. I told her that I had no money that day for her, but that I would certainly help her. I thanked her for asking me. She was very happy and a few days later I took her the equivalent of 50 dollars. This amount would signify that I wanted a significant relationship with her and was comparative to a gift of a caring uncle, but not the equivalence of a father, close friend of means or adult child.

 

It has been a struggle to understand my place here in ministry, relationships individually and in the community as a whole. Learning the language is increasingly giving me a better connection to these people. I live in a mud and homemade brick home just like them. I have no running water and no electric power is allowed on the park reserve I live on near Mt. Meru, adjacent to the Arusha National Park in Tanzania. In Nairobi I live in an area that you would call a slum. But I know it to be lower middle class. I may someday really be one of these people. For now it is a process that has a long way to go. It is my desire to become a true African. I want to first, of course, be a loyal Kingdom Citizen. The Western mindset is strong in me, as it is in all, raised in the West. But I find myself thinking less like a Westerner and at least very understanding of the African mindset. I am a bit of a hybrid right now. But I stay vulnerable. Needing the help of my neighbors and to contribute to them as a good neighbor and friend would. I bring my Kingdom values into every situation and use them all to teach the love of Jesus and strive to model Kingdom principles. I refuse to participate in all actions deemed counter to the Kingdom Culture and have succeeded in the area. Obviously, I don’t participate in anything remotely animist or festivals and observances contrary to good judgment.

Please pray for me to learn to love and honor these people as I extend Jesus and the Kingdom of God into their lives. They are worth all my efforts, as Jesus counted them worthy to die for them. Who am I to do less than lay my life down for them as well.

 

 





Public Floggings, Stabbings, Baptisims and Saying Goodbye!

19 01 2014

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It is just a day in my life as a missionary. I woke had coffee and a milk yoghurt drink from the shop next door.  All packed up with bibles and some other books I set off to walk to this mornings scheduled baptisms in Kayole. I have recently moved to an African neighborhood that is very centrally located so I can travel cheap.  My rent is less than my transportation cost in the city used to be. On my way I see crowds running towards a fense.

Now when I see them running in East Leigh I run with them.  It means something has happend and you need to get away.  Last month a bus was blown up and another day there was some gun fire.  Folks ran my way, I turned and ran with them till they felt safe.  Just some gunfire.  No one ever new why. The police were there shortly and they could find nothing.  All is well.

In Kayole people were running to look at something.  I walked over and peaked around the long blue fense.  I was just in time to see some mean beating another with a rubber hose.  I saw the crowd smiling and knew what was going on.  I confirmed a theif had been run down and caught and locals were beating him with a rubber hose.  He started crying and they slowed and every now and then whacked him when he stopped crying just to please the crowd. They were also calling the police.  I was glad of that.  In Kenya in the villages a theif can be caught beaten and then burned to death by a mob depending on the value of the property or perhaps his repeated behavior of stealing.  With the police coming I knew he was safe from death.  I moved on.

I arrived and greeted my dear brother Fred and later brother Wilson showed up and we visited and fellowshipped.  My baptismal candidates were a mere  three hours late.  Yes three hours.  That is even late for Africans.  Honestly, I gave up on them and we had turned our waiting into productive time reviewing ministry fruit and challenges.  I learned long ago, rather than just get frustrated to use these times to study swahili, read the word, intercede, teach or even better, learn. We divided up some raw Uji I had just bought in a far away village.  A porridge made with 12 different grains, lengums and nuts it is extremly healthy but most locals consider it peasant food for the poor.  I love it.  Then my baptism people come in.

I am a bit dissappointed to learn that I am only baptising one as one of the two have sick children and the other seems to be vacillating.  She was baptised as a child but thought she was saved, but admitted that she did not really walk with God till she came to us.  That is something the brothers will deal with.  She is a precious sister and we need this resolved right away.  She is a widow with a humble spirit.  I honestly think she is terrified of the water.  But that is just something I sense, though brother Fred agrees.

We get to the baptismal pool.  What a place, a half finished hotel with two big swimming pools. Not something that is a nomal addition at a hotel in Africa for Africans.  To top it off it is owned by Muslims.  The last time I was hear we baptised several and the Muslims and Africans alike gathered to listen.  I preached the Gospel as I baptised and we lay hands of the new believers and pray for them concerning the Holy Spirit. The Muslims charge me 100 bob for this use and that is about a buck twenty.  I get to baptise and inadvertently share with about 50 Muslims sometimes.  What a deal.  The last time I was there the water was crystal clear.  Today bright green.  I had to change and since little girls were wandering in the mens area I had to get in a toilet stall to change.  Nudity here in this society under these situations is not the taboo it is in most of the world.  In the dry season  a quick  rain that yealds a pond or flowing river, even if it is right near town may soon populated with many women right on the road side bathing in full view.  Men might be in another pool just a hundred meters away.  People just politely divert their eyes and move on.  The toilet stall is horrific.  I do my best to stay out of the feces. On to the baptism.   David  has come to Jesus from alcoholism and great issues of anger.  He is a construction worker and a good provider.  We led  him to renounce drinking again and make a public profession of his faith and determination to obey Jesus.  He renounces sin, self, satan and the world and under he goes, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  We all rejoice loudly.

As we leave the building I walk with the new brother David. He takes my hand and we walk quite a ways holding hands.  This is done among close friends here and perfectly normal.  For them.  Not for me.  I do it regularly now but must say it is still something I am never comfortable with. But everyone views my participation in this practice, done only among close friends, as a sign I am with them. It does not mean I am one of them yet.  But it does mean we are together.  It matters. No body thinks you are gay. If they thought that you would be in grave danger in some parts. Let me just day that President Obamas speeches here seeking tolerance for homosexuality were not received.

I board a bus and head downtown.  A disciple from the Muslim community that has come to Jesus and walked with us the last year was granted asylum in Canada.  This is his last full day in Kenya. It is a happy and a sad day. I am writing this at 12 noon.  He left at 7 AM.  I no longer have to hide his identity nor change his story. It was hard for me and Abraham to say good bye to Kamaal. I was sad to see him go because there was so much I wanted to share.  Poor Abraham has lost his father figure \ friend\ Pastor, Imam, a couple of months ago, and now another friend from his own area in Ethiopia.  He is left with an old Mzungu and a handful of new friends.  Abraham tells me I am all he has left.  We all three hug.  I assure him that is not true, we have the Father and many new friends and brothers.  But I understand.  You see Kamal and me  in the picture at the top. This was a great day. I enrolled the young men in English school.  Kamal never got to start since the UN called soon after.

Here is another picture, not so happy.

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Kamal was beaten and stabbed leaving a house church meeting. The sisters with him escaped with a few blows I was told, but Kamal got a broken nose a very painful bruising on arms and torso from being kicked and of course the stab wounds. This was taken in the hospital. It happened about 7 months ago. I prayed for Kamal standing on a street corner. Gave him some money to buy a cheap bag for his things, some food for the trip and got his email address and gave him my card. I will most likely never see him again.

Later at home, my neighbor Dennis and friend Davy came to the door. Hodi! Karibu! Hodi is the request to enter a place and karibu  means welcome and so much more. Dennis commented it was nice to meet an Mzungu that could speak some proper Swahili. Later in the conversation Dennis pointed out to me that I referred to myself and Africans as us, and Wazungus, white people,  as them.  He smiled. I did too. That is the way I see it here.  I live here. Now this is my home as is my little clay house in Tanzania. I dearly miss my people in America. My family is precious to me. But I am here. I am with the Africans in every way I can figure out to be.  I am not one of them, yet. Don’t know that I will be.  But I was adopted by the Wameru in Tanzania.  But I am with them, and they know it.  It is my prayer and my hope to stand on Judgement day surrounded by Africans and Americans, former Muslims and Animist, all together. As one, we will worship our King. Till then? Karibu, Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done.





Part two kingdom expansion

3 01 2014

So you decided to push on.  Remember, we are not making converts we are making disciples so Jesus did things different than we have done in the past. Lets see what He teaches us as we look at how He taught His own disciples.  You may hear me say this again, but I am truly excited about this next section.  Here we see the Master, Fisher of Men disciplining His own disciples.  He promised to make them fishers of men.  We are going to look at a process that Jesus taught His disciples in great detail on more than one occasion.  I believe it is one of the most detailed “how to” lessons in all of Jesus teachings.  And that is for a reason.  It is important.

On to passage number two: Luke 10:1-11
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’

We find Jesus in this passage giving perhaps the most detailed explanation on a topic that is in the entire Gospel narrative. He sent them to where HE was coming to next. He also sent out the 12 in both Matthew 10 and Mark 6. That is just what is mentioned. Here we have the 70 going out.  Again, are witnessing Jesus own methodology being demonstrated by the ultimate, Fisher of Men. Like the sermons and teachings of Jesus, I suspect He may have sent out the two dozen, the 150 and perhaps the 300.  I believe this is recorded over and over with different numbers because He did it over and over with different people.

First He tells them He is sending them where He is about to go.  Jesus is always going to the lost.  Will you go with Him? We pray for Jesus participation in our mission as well.

Next, He tells them the harvest is plentiful. He tells them the workers are few.  That is because YOU are not out there.  It is not someone else job.  It is ours.  Listen to what I am telling you. The harvest IS plentiful.  This is not the only time Jesus says this.  He says it right after He met the woman at the well.  I suspect like other things we see repeated in different circumstances, this was a common thread of Jesus message. Satan wants you to think the soil is unfruitful and the harvest is hard.  It is a lie.  Jesus says it is.  I say it is.  Based on my own personal experience.   If you will remember my last post, you have to know where to look.  Jesus askewed the religious, upright and successful in the worlds eyes and went to the poor the sick and the disenfranchised.  Let’s follow His example.

Then what.  Jesus says an amazing thing.  He says ask the Father to send workers.  I always smile when I read this.  It means pray and it is a trap.  Yes, I said it is a trap. A glorious trap set by God.  I have had it pulled on me before.  My former Pastor Dr. Jeff Brawner talked to me about praying for the nations.  He modeled for our entire church for us to set aside certain days to pray for certain things.  The lost in the nations was one of those request.   Later, after he got me doing home bible studies, I was using the book Radical, by David Platt. He also recommended  buying a book by a group called Operation World and start praying using this specific information about the countries of the world.  I started and I could not stop.  This book put the countries in alphabetical order and gave detailed info on the demographics of the country,  the history of Christianity there and the specific prayer needs and request  I could not keep from reading and praying for multiple countries every day.  And as I did, God got my heart in a new way.  Like I said, it was a trap.  I went from a guy literally challenging Jeff and his passion for the lost in other lands going as far as informing him the word missionary is not even in the bible.  I remember his mouth flying open,  his looking at the ground and shaking his head.  I may have been what you call a problem disciple.  I may have given him some gray hairs.  But you see who convinced who.  I am sitting in a clay house in Tanzania writing to you on sharing with the lost and he is training other people to be better missionaries.

Then He says to GO!  Wait, Glenn, you already told us this in the last post.  Yes, isn’t Jesus consistent.  He never tells us to go and invite people to a crusade or a revival or a church meeting.  Now the method He teaches involved you getting out of your comfort zone and going.  What is awesome is He is going to tell you HOW to go. Read on.

Next,  Jesus  says something we overlook.  Don’t take a bunch of supplies and accoutrements.  Pay attention here. Here we are given instructions on how to go, that contains some specific details. He specifically sends them “unencumbered”. There are no props, minimal provisions, no weapons, and no equipment. They are positioned to move quick and often, unburdened by the normal supplies for traveling on a long trip. This sounds strange to a nation of planning, programming and preparing methodical people. But Jesus is liberating and releasing us to go without all the baggage and methods we so love to carry and apply. We are simply to focus on the task at hand. To major on the only thing that is important and be free of all that can slow us down. To tell of the Kingdom.

We have come to think we need big crusades, awesome sound systems, great worship bands and the Jesus film to go out into all the world. Jesus specifically tells us to go unencumbered. I particularly like this since I serve in Africa and late in life have  worked with the poor. Why does that matter? Because when we go in spending big money and have great technology to spread the Word we are modeling something that the poor cannot participate in. They will NOT be able to hold huge crusades and show the Jesus film and have a high tech worship band. So this model needs is doable for them.  It is reproducible.  NO money to proceed. That is great for you and me. And it is great for our future disciples.  I try not to  invest in something that the locals cannot duplicate without me and my Western technology.  I recommend that if you follow Jesus’ lead in using this in the West as well.   Think of how you can model this WITHOUT using money. If you go to the poor, they don’t have it. So don’t model something they can’t do without you. It is NOT Jesus’ way.
Greet no one on the way. Now, to being unencumbered, we add not being distracted. I live in Africa. Greeting people is a huge part of our culture here. It fosters respect and relationships. But trust me. A Tanzanian and a Kenyan will literally head out on a God given task and then spend 6 hours during the day visiting and talking to everyone in sight about nothing in particular. We in the West will begin a project and stop incessantly to read text, send an email chat on the phone or given more than a 10 minute wait begin surfing the web.  We set a definite time to start and stop, leaving little room for God to intervene.  That is what organized, productive people do.  We have things to do so lets schedule this thing for two hours and get with it so I can get home and see the ball game.  Go unencumbered and do not get distracted. You may think this does not matter but it does. Avoiding distractions and unnecessary activities are a must. They were important enough for Jesus to warn His disciples, so we are wise to heed the same warning.

Now, I skipped something.  Did you notice?  Jesus said when you enter a home you leave a blessing.  Peace to this house.  Now this tells me two things.  One they were going to peoples homes.  Now this is significant.  You see we all remember Paul and the others teaching the Jews in the synagogues, the gentiles in the forums and other public speaking venues.  At Pentecost Peter preaches outside and 3000 are added.  I am not against this.  It is awesome to preach publicly.  I don’t do it often in the market place, but I have done it many times.  Maybe 10 or 20.  I don’t count.  But we read in Acts after this public preaching that The Lord added to them daily. How?  Well we read that they met house to house breaking bread but not much else is said about it other than the other public sermons like Stephan and later Paul.  But we know Jesus had trained them in this method we are studying and we see in the next section they are looking for a certain type of person.

Man of Peace. We find and stay with a “man of peace”, or someone who promotes peace, depending on your translation. We may be introduced to this person as a leader when we arrive at a village. This is a person receptive to the gospel and with a heart for hospitality. In America, or the West,  you may experience this person as you go out door to door. They will take the time to talk. They will be hospitable. God has prepared them for you.  They are waiting on you.  Remember, you are praying before you are going, for workers.  This person of peace, is in fact a potential, worker, disciple.  You have been praying FOR HIM, when you prayed for a worker.

We may preach the Gospel in public and one of the new believers offer us a place to stay. They may just come up and ask a lot of questions and accept your invitation to come to their home and continue. The provision for this person is not specifically identified for us in this text. We just see that when we enter their house we leave a blessing.  I find this vague statement exciting. We just know and expect God to provide this person from these instructions. So we go out in prayer, expecting to identify this person, knowing that this is in God’s hands. We go looking for the “man of peace”. Not just people that we can “win” to Jesus. This is a person of influence and a person who could later become a gifted disciple.  Now influence might just mean, a lot of people respect him within a certain group of people.  He could be a down right terrible drunk, and God will open doors with him to other drinkers due to his amazing transformation.  He may be a local leader and open other kinds of doors. We just don’t know.  Again, I find this exciting.  This is a point of great importance and we must rely on the Lords leading and provision. We will always keep this person in mind for the next village, the next town and the next house church and yes the next house you walk up to.

Listen, this is important.  We don’t get worried if someone says they are not interested and slams the door.  Or is someone does not want to become a disciple.  That just means they are not a person of peace. But don’t worry about them. The person of peace will have many contacts, family members, co workers and friends that will accept his invitation to learn about his life changing decision for the Kingdom. The person that slams the door in your face, has a person in their life that they will welcome in. You just keep searching.

We carry a Blessing. This is an interesting aspect of Jesus commands for us in going out. We are carrying a blessing for the “man of peace” his village and his house. In this verse. He says we will have this blessing if the person of peace welcomes us or if he is unresponsive we can withdraw it. I speak this blessing when I enter. This seems inconsequential to those that do not understand the power of Jesus teachings. I claim no revelation in this area. But I strongly suspect that as we bless those who receive us and withdraw that blessing from those that don’t, there we be a real and apparent consequence. I believe that the Gospel will be furthered through this blessing and withholding, in ways we cannot foresee at this time. But I imagine the villages witnessing God’s favor on the blessed will be influenced for the Kingdom. Regardless we will obey.

Stay, We don’t move around from this person’s house, in a given area, as we serve and work. Now I don’t want to confuse you but now I want to tell you that after going out in Luke 10 evangelism going to house to house, that when you find this person of peace, STOP. Many get excited and quickly run to the next house eager to brag on all the conversions that day. But we are making disciples remember. Jesus spent three and a half years with 12 men. You will need to take time here. I won’t spend a ton of time on it as I will write on it later. But when you lead a person to repentance of their sins and acceptance of the Kingdom of God and Jesus the King, you are not done you are now beginning. Ask this person where their husband, wife, sister, mother and father live. Ask who their best friend is or their closest neighbor. Then invite them to come over. Confirm the new disciples commitment and spend time disciplining them that very day. Give them a bible if they don’t have one, but very soon, even the same day or the next hour have them get others to come and listen to you share. Right then! Use this new person, the person of peace you were looking for to connect to others in their circle of influence and extend the Kingdom through their contacts. That way they get the experience of spreading the Kingdom in their spiritual DNA right from the start. They watch you share and lead others in repentance over and over. And perhaps they begin to actually share or pray with you. Oh and by the way. They will sometimes offer to feed you and if you are traveling you might even stay there. This is very likely in Africa where I serve. If they are that person of peace and others come to surrender to Jesus also, you have just planted a house church.  I won’t spend a lot of time on it here, but I highly recommend you don’t take them to church. I recommend you start a church there.  A house church.  It is what I do here and we have about 37 in the two countries.  And our house churches are going out doing Luke 10 evangelism, planting more house churches.  I have believers, not me, believers that have planted a third of our house churches.  The multiplication has begun.

Heal the Sick. For some of you, this is going to be a stretch. The ministry of proclaiming the Kingdom of God, the Good News, is always accompanied by God’s provision and power. God will be God as we go. He is the God of miracles. Marc Carrier, my mentor, has experienced closed doors from Muslims until they ask him to pray for a very sick father or mother. Someone is healed and then people begin to surrender to Christ. The funny thing is, sometimes other Muslims are very understanding of Muslim neighbors that leave Islam when their father is healed miraculously. What can they say. Frankly, Muslims frequently ask Christians to pray for their sick as Christians have a reputation here of having God answer their prayers. Neither of us are faith healers. But God heals in answer to prayer all the time. Especially in the third world. Or as I call it the Majority World. Sorry, that is another topic all together.

But let’s look at this a minute. We are told we carry a blessing, elsewhere in the bible if a person gives a prophet a glass of water they receive a prophets reward. Then we are also told that we can withhold a blessing and now we are commanded to heal the sick. So let me now say something bold. There was and, I believe, still is, an anointing that goes with us as we obey Jesus commands to extend the Kingdom following this mandate. I say that because I see it happen in Marc Carrier and my ministries. I’m not in the deliverance ministry.  But I went to pray for a sick lady and a demon manifested.  It was cast out while Muslims neighbors watched.  Two hours later they repented and turned to Jesus.
Tell them of the Kingdom of God. Again the Kingdom. Everywhere Jesus and His Apostles went they preached the Kingdom. That is the King (Jesus), His realm (His Kingdom, on earth as it is in Heaven) , His citizenship (How to enter and abide in His Kingdom) and His commands ( following His teachings) . Jesus mentioned the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven 87 times. The New Testament mentions Jesus as ransom twice, begin born again a couple of times, dying for our sins a handful of times, Church a couple of times and pastors once or twice. In Luke 4:43 He says He must preach the Kingdom because that is why He came. In the Lords prayer the first request is that we pray His Kingdom come. He taught it all through the Gospels. After He rose again, guess what He taught. For forty days He taught them about the Kingdom of God, Acts 1:3. The Apostles went out preaching it, Acts 8:12, including Paul, Acts 28:23 and Acts 28:30-31.  Revelations tells us in the end the whole world would be His Kingdom Rev. 11:15, but not before Matt. 24:14 is fulfilled. The Gospel of the Kingdom is preached in all the earth.

At this point I want you to note that there is a link down at the bottom of the page for my mentors website, Marc Carrier, at Kingdom Driven Ministries. You can check out his site and then download two things. One is the Kingdom Essentials series. It goes into sharing the Kingdom of God, making disciples, house church and teaching Jesus commands. The second document is a tract we use that Marc wrote called Two Kingdoms. In it we share the Gospel of the Kingdom of God modeled after the way Jesus did it. After you read the Kingdom essentials you will understand how to use it.

Using this method I move about and make disciples for only a few hundred dollars a month. My expenses are miniscule compared to traditional mission methods. I avoid the pitfalls of Americans being viewed as the rich elite and possible sources of money and gain, as I live poor, among the poor, with the poor, serving the poor, with the Gospel of the Kingdom. I travel with little and rely on God’s provision and mercy. We will carry enough funds for some food and to help the needy when the timing and opportunity is correct. I have bibles and literature, in Kiswahili . You should materials in the native language of your working culture. Don’t be critical of any and all that do things differently from a methodology standpoint. Just do what Jesus did. The fruit speaks for itself.
Well, I have written this in response to questions and interest of others. It is both too short and too long. I will be happy to visit with you and discuss this biblical model. I only ask that you download and read the Kingdom Essentials booklet by Marc first.  Check out his other books and writings.  Leave a donation for him for the free books.  Click the donate tab on his site and you can give to this ministry or one of the other awesome missionaries doing similar work.   I hope this answers some questions and raises some as well. I look forward to hearing from you.

http://kingdomdriven.org/purchase-resources





Kingdom Expansion: A Biblical Model for Going and Telling and Making Disciples 1

31 12 2013

Kingdom Expansion
through the Kingdom method of Discipleship
following the specific instructions of our King.

 
This  was written in response to numerous request about our work in the mission field in Africa and how it might be applied in the West.  I hope you have questions and find answers.  I am writing it in two parts.  One on the commission and one on the method of applying it as taught by Jesus Himself. Read on.
By the way.  This is not a theory.  This is the Kingdom Method of Kingdom Expansion.  We are doing this in Africa and it is happening all over the world.  I hope it starts in your part of the world.    It’s not easy.  But it is the way modeled by the King.

There are two passages in the Bible we will look at for a plan for biblical insight into missions.  I hate calling it that.  Missions.  That makes it sound like a aberration from being a disciple simply obeying Jesus.   It is just the way Jesus taught and modeled to extend the Kingdom of God into the world.  Matthew 28:16-20 and Luke 10:1-11. Let’s look at the first of the two passages: The first Matt 28:16-20. You will need to pray for fresh eyes, as these are familiar verses.  Lord, I pray you give us fresh eyes to see your word in all its wisdom and meaning.  Amen.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

OK, I know you are saying.  “Dude, I know this verse.  Let’s move on!”  First lets …….Lets break this down. Just bear with me.
GO: Our mission includes going. Okay that’s easy so far. But let me point out what is NOT in this simple word. That is inviting people to come to church or a revival.  Jesus nor the Apostles wrote nor said anything about building churches and filling them people and inviting the lost to come.   Jesus said GO. Get out of your comfort zone and GO to the lost. We must change the culture of Christianity from COME, to church, to GO to the lost. Of course we will always meet together and fellowship. But in the entire NT the church met in homes.  They spent their funds they pooled together mostly on each other, the poor, the orphan and the widows.  More on that another time.  But for now realize that this is not a verse for missionaries.  That word is not even in the bible.  Missionary.  It is for disciples.  You know the people Jesus went everywhere with and looking for.  In fact when we go, He gives us a great new standard for calling the lost.  For lack of another term, lets call it Jesus, alter call.  Except as one brother has shared.  It is not a call to an “alter” but a call to “alter” or repent.  Now for Jesus alter call.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?

“Well that does not sound like any alter call I ever heard!”  Exactly.  You see we work hard to make converts but Jesus was not doing that.  He was not training His disciples to do that.  What was He doing? Read on.

Make disciples.  Ah, I get it.  He has a different plan than we do.  He is not looking to convert the masses.  He is looking to make disciples, who make disciples who teach others to obey the commands of Jesus, and make disciples that obey  His commands and make disciples. See a trend? You see if you want a bunch of converts to fill the pews just ask folks to pray the sinners prayer.  Jesus and the Apostles never did that.  Jesus called for repentance, baptism and warned of the cost of becoming a disciple.  He said to count the cost.  No begging people to get saved.  No pleading with them to avoid hell so they can get to heaven.  No, He was saying, drop your nets, take up your cross and give up everything and come and follow me.  He said this to the masses by the way.  Not to the Apostles.  It was to people like you and me.  Why?  Why, is it so important for people to be disciples and not just converts.  Making converts is not Jesus way.  I wonder why?

Marc Carrier, tells of an evangelist that leads someone to Christ every day for 15 years.  And he tells of a disciple maker that makes only one disciple every year.  Let’s look at the math.

The evangelist at the end of the year has 365 new converts.  At the end of five years he has 1825 and at the end of 20 years he has 7300 converts.  And then he dies.  The work is done.  Praise God for this faithful man.  Then there was this other guy.

He had the crazy idea to obey Jesus and follow the great commission and NOT make converts but to make disciples.  And when disciples are taught, the great commission, they know they are to obey Jesus commands and that means they are to make disciples.

But things are a bit slower here.  At the end of one year our disciple maker has made one disciples.  Numerically speaking he is not showing much fruit.  But he is obeying.  Two years, four.  You see he made another disciple and his disciple from last year made one as well.  Slowly, slowly, one a year each.  At the end of five years, he has 32 disciples.  But then things get interesting.  You see disciples multiply.  Converts go to church.  Of course some lead other to the Lord, go into ministry and maybe even become an evangelist like our prolific brother above.  but lets look at 15 years down the road.  32,768.  At 20 years, 1 million forty eight thousand five hundred and seventy six.  Our disciple maker dies and the numbers just keep growing.  Now maybe you understand why Jesus made disciples and not converts.  Let’s do it too!
Making disciples is different.  There is no begging the lost to pray a sinners prayer. Instead there is a call to count the cost and give up everything and come and follow Jesus. That is the way Jesus did it. Why?  Jesus was not looking for the masses, like we do. Jesus was looking for disciples.  Do you think we should trust Him or the four spiritual laws tract we were given in evangelism class to lead people to discipleship. We want to disciple believers to become and reproduce Kingdom Citizens, not nominal cultural Christians who attend a Sunday service and live life with a Christian spin on things. I am not in Africa to Americanize them. But rather we are teaching the Kingdom of God, as taught by Jesus, using His methods that He personally used in training His own disciples. There is a King (Jesus), He has a realm ( a real Kingdom on this earth and in heaven) , citizens (committed believers) and they obey His rules (commands) because they love and trust Him. The Kingdom of God, in its purity, under His leadership with real world involvement and literal attendance is the greatest culture changing force in the entire world. Read that last sentence again.  Is cultural Western Christianity the greatest force for change in the world?  It would be if we in Western Christianity followed Jesus and left the theologians out of the equation.
And we learn from 2 Timothy 2:2 that disciples make disciples.
2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

If you read Ephesians 4: 11-13, you find God gave Apostles, teachers and pastors to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.  We think the office holders here are in the ministry to lead the lost to Jesus.  But according to this verse they are to  equip the saints to do the work off the ministry.

We need to quit looking at the relationship of Jesus and the Apostles, as some holy special once in history event, and start understanding that we are watching the King of Kings, model making disciples.  We too, can learn from The Master, disciple maker.  Jesus called the disciples to be fishers of men because He was a fisher of men. He promised to teach them to fish for men and then teach others to obey His command.  It was and is His intention for you and I to be disciples, making fishers of men.

Back to our verse.
ALL Nations, or as I like to say, all over.  We must remember that our mission is mobile, fluid and flexible. God is at work everywhere we can’t get overly committed to an area, but rather stay committed to the vision of Kingdom Expansion. You will have to get out of your comfort zone to do this if you obey Jesus. Let me share what works for me.   I discovered something about the poor studying the NT. Listen carefully. Remember two things. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.  Does your work to reach the lost seem anything but a venture involving plenty?  I think the Word tells us why.  We are told in James 1:5 that the poor are rich in faith. Jesus rejoiced that the truth was revealed and accepted by the simple and hidden from the wise. Jesus is right. The harvest is plentiful. Then He gives us a hint where to look and where we might not get results. The poor are rich in faith and it is harder to get a rich man to heaven than a camel through the eye of a needle. You will hear this from me many times. Let me give you an easy target, if you are in America, the largest unreached people group is people living in a trailer park. Almost no one targets them.  The rich ALWAYS think they have it all together and mostly look down on those who don’t. The rich are poor soil, Jesus said so.  We don’t neglect them, we just realize the poor are fertile soil. I recommend you focus there.  Just a tip.

Again, back to the verse.
BAPTIZING Baptism is an integral part of spreading the Gospel. It cannot be over emphasized and was a foundation in the Great Commission. It must be foundational to us as well and  we cannot leave it out of our message. Jesus and the Apostles didn’t. Repentance and baptism go together. In fact many times it is called the baptism of repentance. Repent and be baptized were hallmark of John the Baptist preaching.  And if you add the commands of Jesus and the Kingdom of God you have the hallmark of His message.   And Peter’s first sermon ends with a call to repent and be baptized. If that was the way for Peter, John, and Jesus should it not be for us. Theologians have robbed us of the importance of baptism. All wrapped up in the argument of faith and works. That debate never even included the subject of baptism both in the New Testament nor the writings of the early church. Yet theologians have eviscerated the importance of baptism in their zeal to protect a basic point in their beloved reformation theology. Jesus went preaching and had His disciples do the baptizing. He was teaching them how to do it. He was disciplining them on its importance. They may have baptized literally tens of thousands during this time.  They learned the lesson well. If your Lord and Savior, spent time training His disciples to baptize, so should we. Recently, I had some preacher actually saying that Paul did not preach repentance because that was only the gospel while John and Jesus were ministering. I guess someone forgot to read their bible.
Acts 26:20, Paul talking to King Agrippa, ” First to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”  Another has pointed out that Paul made a point out of saying that he did not baptize many.  So it must not be important.   Does not surprise me.  Jesus, Paul’s Lord and Master, baptized NONE.  You see Jesus was teaching others to do it.  He did this by having them do it over and over again perhaps thousands of times.  It would have been unheard of for them to disassociate baptism to repentance and faith.  I am sure Paul was doing the same thing.  Having his disciples do the baptism.  It’s the best way to learn.

TEACHING THEM TO OBEY: EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED This command is many times left out of the Great Commission all together. This is a huge part of the Great Commission and we tend to gloss over it. Depending on your denominational bent, we teach how to get “saved”, how to witness, a few important doctrinal points to avoid error, the importance of bible reading, mention baptism and going to church etc. And those things can be wonderful. But are they everything that JESUS commanded? Let’s be honest Jesus taught to repent, drop your nets, take up your cross and follow Him completely. Then He gave specific ways to live that included loving God and your brother in ways that sound outlandish to the world and again, thanks to theologians, to us. He taught that we are to turn our cheek even to our enemies. We are to give to those in need almost recklessly, with little regard to our own well being. We radically value relationships with our brothers, neighbors and yes our enemies. I could go on, but basically we take the words of Jesus that “He who loves me obeys my commands” and we teach that those commands are to be seriously obeyed. Jesus said on judgment day we would be judged by the very words that He taught. He also says in John 12:47-50 His teachings came right from the Father. Don’t listen to the theologians. Teach the radical laws of the Kingdom of God. They were the sermons and commands of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain. I suspect there was a sermon in the village, a sermon on the water, a sermon in the desert and a sermon in the city. And I suspect like the one on the mount and the plain, they were the radical teaching of a new kind of Kingdom.

Remember, the Tutsi and the Hutu sat next to each other in church, in Rwanda for years. They were one of the most evangelized peoples in Africa. They had heard the easy believing gospel of the West. They had not been taught to OBEY Jesus commands. And one day genocide began. I read the testimonies of the killers. One told of being a Christian and a believer before he killed, during the killing and even now in prison. He regrets that the whole genocide thing happened.  He says he won’t kill anymore.  He is tired of it.  But for the life of me, nothing this guy said sounded like repentance.  You see in his theology, taught in the West, he was saved by Jesus from his past, present and future sins.  Even though the NT specifically says murderers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. You see his theology was all about believing, but knew nothing of obeying. Belief and obedience were never divorced in the NT.  He hacked almost a hundred people up. His neighbors. Theologians won’t judge you, nor me, nor  the lost we share with. Jesus will. Teach and obey Him.

The final part of the Great Commission
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.  I am in this forever. (Jesus) What great news.  He sends us out and then promises to go with us.  Jesus is in the going.  Will you go?

I  will stop here.  The rest will come in the next post. The Great Commission is not just for Apostles.  It is a Commission for the members of  the Body of Christ, equipped for the ministry by the leadership.

The next section we will cover is the exact methods Jesus taught on going to the World.  Did you know that?  Did you know that Jesus gave us exact instructions on sharing and expanding the Kingdom.  I can’t wait to share, arguably the most detailed explanation of any teaching Jesus gave in all His ministry. Stay tuned, coming soon!





Walking in Memphis….. Uh I mean Africa. (A day in the life of a novice missionary.)

13 11 2013

 

Walking in Memphis….Uh I mean Africa

What’s a day in Nairobi like for Glenn the novice missionary?  Well welcome aboard here we go. This is pretty much the way a day goes down in Nairobi.

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Up at 6:30, I have no idea why, I was up late and don’t have much of a need to arise early, but I do.  Read 1 John, again, make some notes, pray for the day and some brothers and sisters in need and check in on FB and my hometown newspaper.  Breakfast, coffee of course.   Out the door at nine.

I leave the compound I live at.  Normally I try to live among the locals but my brother Imam who just passed, was living in a safe house in a very nice neighborhood.  I have been enjoying the mzungu life of running water and reliable electricity.  Even hot showers!  I leave this environment and head into real Africa.  I wave down a matatu.  A Toyota passenger van that hauls folks to downtown for about 40 bob.  That’s about 45 cents.  We circle the neighborhood several times before we are full.  No bus heads out of the neighborhood till it is full.  Today it took only 20 minutes to fill the bus.  That’s a good day.  The drive to Nairobi is only about another 20 minutes today.  That is very quick.  I visit quickly with the driver in Swahili and then get out my Swahili book and study for the 30 plus minutes I am riding.

 I call my favorite motorbike taxi but find out he was arrested for driving after dark and now has no bike.  The local police swept the city enforcing a law they never enforce just to raise some revenue.   So I decide to walk to the next bus stop that will take me to the Mathare slums.   I decide on a promising short cut only to find out I am quickly lost.  Normally I walk this direction till I see the top of the huge mosque and then right behind it is my bus stop.  I walk for about 30 more minutes and then decide I better get another boda boda.  A motorbike taxi.  I see an Apache motor bike.  It is a new Indian made bike that I have never ridden so I ask the driver if he will take me.  He turns and has very bloodshot eyes.  Normally that’s a problem and has led to me having to get off due to drunken recklessness.  But I think this guys has allergies.  He seems fine.

The bike rides amazingly smooth and he is a very capable driver named Robert.  He is stunned I want to go to the slums, he tells me he won’t even go there normally.  I get that quite a bit here, so I get to tell him about being a missionary and serving the lost and poor.  He drops me off and I get his phone number to get a ride later.  He is polite and pleased.  I meet with the brothers, Pastor Wilson and Fred for a bit.  Then I speak in a classroom situation about baptism to a class of new believers.  It is a subject that takes some finesse here due to cultural and tribal ceremonies.  They circumcise as a part of coming of age here for boys followed by baptism when healed.  The girls have a blessing ceremony then they are baptized.  Now they have Christianized this time of life meaning there are of course some folks that really do surrender to Jesus at this time of life making their baptism valid on some level.  However, I am pretty tough on anyone that has a testimony of a ceremonial baptism.  Mostly the whole Christianizing thing just muddles the whole experience.   Some inform me that they just had their foreheads crossed with water or in fact did not really understand what was going on.  They did not repent and did not surrender to the Lord.  Many questions follow, some quite surprising.  I would love to just lead people to repentance and faith in Christ and baptize them.  But I run into this confusion over the ceremonies so often  I decided to address it with new believers and house church leaders in a big meeting so they could address it personally when the questions arose.  We lead a dozen or so people to the lord in Mathere sometimes and I can’t interview each candidate for baptism.  So this training is great.

After the meeting we head out to look at a sisters business site.  She shows us her little stall and expresses some challenges.  I am making mental notes as to address them as noting opportunities to improve her business that she is blind to.  She is a firm lady that although she is about 70 she is spry and newly saved.  Firm handshake, strictly business.  I like her already.  I served cokes at the baptism meeting and she drank three.  When she realized that I would not deny her, she could not stop herself.  I believe she would have drunk ten if we had them extra.  Growing up so poor made this little drink very special to her.  Let her overdo it.  No harm.

All along the slums we walk.  The streets are black and soaked this morning.  Rained last night here.  I can’t describe the slums to you adequately.  Tin walls that make homes burning hot when we enter in the day.  The streets have human waste in them and children play in the mud holes.  HIV, TB, meningitis, malaria and typhoid are everywhere.  I am told that TB is so prevalent  that everyone, including me, test positive for about two weeks after we visit.  Since I come every month you know what that means.  It is an airborne disease and it is breathed by all.  If that scares you then my advice is don’t come here.  That is just life in the slums.  The murder rate is high but the police could care less.  It’s the slums.  No one even knows how many people live here.  They technically say 3.3 million people live in Nairobi.  But I am told that with the slums it could be 5-7 million.  Some say we are 60% slums either way.

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I love it here.  I have an opportunity to live here or in East Leigh very soon.  East Leigh is actually safer from a building security issue, but I will be living around Muslims and some are radicals.  The Lord will lead.  I will follow.

After several visits and some picture taking I call Robert my new driver for the day.  He arrives promptly and off I go to do some computer work after picking up some printing and other errands.  We weave through traffic in ways that would horrify a Westerner.  But I am told African drivers are totally bland compared to drivers in India.  I find that hard to believe.  But even the Africans say the same thing.

I get dropped off about 200 yards from my destination.   I immediately see a horrified young white couple pushing  two strollers while a street boy, covered in filth and scares,  is walking with them and their children,  begging for food.  I am sure they are terrified that this child will infect their children with something.  They don’t want to be rude, but the look on their face is clearly terror.  I call to him as I approach and hold up a ten bob.  He comes over and I put my arm around him, leading him away from them and give him the coin.  I ask his name.  Isa he says.  AHHHH, I say.  Do you know about Isa Al Mashi?  He looks up at me.  He is not that dirty.  Not by African standards. Not by my standards.  He shakes his head.  I tell him that the Jesus of the bible is the Isa of the Quran.  I assume his parents were Muslim, with that name.  He then nods, telling me he has heard that.  We talk a minute about Jesus but he is only about six.  We switch from English to Swahili and talk about his family.  His mother is at home but he lives with his aunt.  His dad lives in the village back home.  After I get near the internet shop I slip him another 10 bob.  I tell him I would like to walk home with him sometime so he can show me where he lives.  He says he will like that.  He lives in Kibera.  Once it was the largest slum in the world.  I have never gone there.  Maybe I will go with Isa.  Sounds like just the guy to show me around.  I like that.  I will go with Isa.

I post some pictures online and eat supper. I use the free internet to surf the web a bit.  I am tired.  I call Charles my other boda boda driver and he has now gotten out of jail and can come pick me up.  Remember,  I told you they rounded them all up the day before.  He rides me home on his motor bike and it is raining on us.  Hakunashida.  No worries.  We catch up on the ride home in the rain.  I get off the bike at home and give him some extra fare for the ride.  He had to pay 20,000 to get his bike out. Of impound. Over 215 dollars.  He sold the furniture in his living space to get his bike back.

I head in to go to bed.  The power is out.  Great.  I cover my bed in mosquito net and crawl under and light a lamp to read by.  Going through Imam’s things I find two great studies on sharing Jesus with Muslims.  I also, found a book with world view comments on the scripture from an African perspective.  They deal with very different cultural issues here than we do.  I won’t go into them now but everything from money, family to friendships are very different than in the West.  So verses have very different implications.  Things you and I just take for granted are very big issues.  Issues that impact cultural norms in a very important way if taught and understood.  They have blind spots, just like we do in the West.  These books help me understand.  Both tribal Africa, Westernized Africa and of course Islamic Africa.  I am engrossed in learning how to impact this culture for the Kingdom.  Like Paul walking around looking at the idols in Greece, I study and read about the cultures I am in, looking for ways to extend the Kingdom.  What can I use to connect with them?  What must I reject and what can be transformed from darkness to light.  Pray for me that the Lord would lead me and guide me.  Pray that I learn to connect with a culturally diverse community of both Christian, Muslims and Animist.  I am reminded of a quote by C.T. Studd.   I think he is calling me a turnip head in this quote.

“The difficulty is to believe that He can deign to use such scallywags as us, but of course He wants Faith and Fools rather than talents and culture. All God wants is a heart, any old turnip will do for a head; so long as we are empty, all is well, for then He fills with the Holy Ghost. The fiery baptism of the Holy Ghost will change soft, sleek Christians into hot, lively heroes for Christ, who will advance and fight and die, but not mark time.”

I was definitely a called scallywag.  I am a bit like my favorite missionary hero in my calling

 “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China…I don’t know who it was…It must have been a man…a well-educated man. I don’t know what  happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing…and God looked down…and saw Gladys Aylward…And God said – “Well, she’s willing.”
– Gladys Aylward

I am sure there are better prepared, better equipped, smarter and more talented people called to serve.  Sometimes they come. Sometimes they don’t.  When they don’t you get someone like me.  Pray for me.   It’s 11:20 time for sleep.