Here are a few thoughts of reflection from our trip.
- Jesus is truly enough. When Jesus said in John 11:25 that He is the resurrection and the life, He was speaking profound truth. I observed this many times over during our trip but particularly in the life of one young lady. We visited her home, which was the tiniest dwelling I have ever entered. Just enough room for a bed, a desk, and a shelf. However, even though she possessed little in this world, her joyful worship indicated that having Jesus was truly enough. She danced before the Lord with enthusiastic joy and celebration. It was easy to see she loved the Lord.
- True joy does not come from things. Our teams visited in 286 homes. It became clear after a few dozen homes that suffering and hardship is the norm, the way of life. It was very rare to enter a home where there was no sickness, everything from malaria to bed-ridden illnesses. Many were hungry. Many had little clothing, and what they had was tattered and worn. Employment is hard to come by, so along with everything that affects, many children were unable to attend school for lack of fees. And yet, unmistakably, and without fail, every believer would greet us with warm hospitality, friendly smiles, and we would praise the Lord together. They knew suffering, and yet, they still had joy!
- I’m not sure we really get that. I know we agree that Jesus is enough and that our joy does not come from things but affirming a truth and living a truth are two different experiences. We have so many luxuries and so many opportunities for extras and live in such relative comfort and ease, we tend to grow accustomed to having our wants met, not just our needs. When those wants are threatened or out of our reach, we so easily fall to pieces, grow discouraged, and by default seek a means to self-medicate. I’m including myself in this analysis. Given all of the access to grow in the faith that we enjoy in the West, the smallest trials sometimes reveal how far we are from possessing a strong, unwavering faith.
- They want what we have, but we should want what they have. Just because they strive forward in faith while living in hardship doesn’t mean they are super-Christians. They have their own inner struggles and desires. One of their chief desires is to come to America. They want what we have. They want jobs and income and nice houses and the ability to come and go as they please. They want what we have. However, we should want what they have. A faith that has been tested by time and trial and yet remains secure. A joy that isn’t rooted in possessions but is rooted in being possessed by the Lord! They think we are blessed more than they. It seems more likely to be the other way around. While we attend church if there’s nothing else on the calendar to do, they attend church because they want to, and their lives are not cluttered with hundreds of other things to do.
- The Gospel is advancing throughout the world. No matter the language, culture, or circumstance, the gospel continues to move forward! I preached a message from Matt 12 where Isaiah prophesies that “in His name the Gentiles shall hope.” And the fulfilling of that text was right there in that church. Gentile believers from Kenya, Tanzania, and America were together hoping in Christ!
- The Church in Kenya will soon be pressed hard. There are two present influences in Kenya that make for the perfect storm against the Church; the push of Islam and the prevalence of prosperity teaching. At some point the many desperate people who have fallen prey to the false teaching of health and wealth will soon grow disenchanted with what is so-called Christianity and salvation. Islam will be there to fill the vacuum. Will the true Church also be there? Yes, it will. And it will be difficult to present the true gospel over against these opposing forces.
- We must support the pastors to strengthen the Church. What can we do to help our brothers and sisters in these nations? The needs are so many. Where do you begin? How do you offer help that does not turn into dependence? One thing for sure is to help the pastors so that they can shepherd their flocks. We can seek ways to provide biblical and theological training, sound resources, and means for pastors to earn a steady, reliable income. Ground them in the faith, free them to pastor and care for their churches, and we can stand with them through their present trials and the ones to come.
- There is much work to be done. These are just my observations from two weeks on the ground in just one country. 4.5 billion people exist in this world today with little to no access to the gospel. We must flood these nations and peoples with long-term, lifelong, glory of God-loving disciples! For Jesus said in Matt 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Sola Deo Gloria!