Money to Kenya

IMG-20180515-WA0048Just a quick update about the activity with our Kenya partners during the month of May:

  1. We sent more than $4,000 this month to our partners in Kenya for school fees, teacher's salaries, and orphan's food.
  2. I received report cards and a letter from our children from EOTOO.
  3. I have organized my next trip to Kenya, which will be July 26 to August 8. I will conduct leadership training in Kisumu and Bomet, and then spend four days in Nairobi.
  4. I have a request to help little Felix with another hearing aid. He lost his. Cost is $400. IMG-20180515-WA0056
  5. The last I heard of our container was that it left the Bahamas on a ship on April 24. It is due to arrive in Nairobi on May 31. I have been communicating with our agent so I can send the money necessary to clear customs.
  6. I received some great pictures from the Dr. Stanko Academy. The heading was that the children met with the local chiefs or officials.

I ask you to consider an offering this month toward our work with the orphans and other partners in Kenya. You can give via Paypal using my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.  Thank you for helping us help the poor.


It's Not a Chinese Thing

Much has been made of late of the concept of white supremacy in the United States. This article will not discuss or debate the impact of that issue, for there is a host of material on the subject, and it often leads to contentious and acrimonious arguments and hurt feelings. What I want to focus on is the recent XiJinpingconstitutional amendment that removed the two-term limit of service for the party general secretary and chairmanship of the party’s Central Military Commission. In other words, the man who holds those positions is free to rule for life, although Xi Jinping has said he is personally opposed to lifetime rule. We shall see, for it was not unusual for two-term limits in African nations to be challenged when the ruler approached the end of his second term. It was once said in an American comedy movie, "It's good to be the king."

My point is that the tendency, perhaps even the drive, to dominate others is not a Caucasian trait, or a Chinese thing, or an African weakness. While it has often revealed itself as an expression of racism (Caucasian against black, Caucasian against Aboriginal people, tribe against tribe in Africa), it is a human trait that goes beyond race to cast its ugly shadow over every age, culture, nation, or tribe. The source of this tendency is explained in only one place and that is the Bible in Genesis 3:16 when the Lord said to Eve, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The result of the fall is that Adam would want to "rule over" Eve.

We have seen this play out again and again in male and female relationships, but this desire to "rule over you" immediately expressed itself when Cain killed Abel (see Genesis 4) and when Nimrod established kingdoms that included Babylon, and used his warrior skills to conquer and keep everyone in line, using weapons to do so. From that point in history, we learn that every nation and people has had a tendency to find someone it could dominate and rule. (Lest you think that this tendency to dominate is only a male trait, consider the millions of women who have expressed their domination over their fetus through abortions that had nothing to do with the health of the mother or condition of the fetus.)

Then along came Jesus, whose purpose is explained in Colossians 1:19-20, "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Jesus came to restore order as it was meant to be in the Garden before the Fall, and part of that is to reverse the tendency to abuse power that clings to all human beings. Jesus' recommended antidote for leadership power is service to others, and even that can become an exercise in dominating others as we do things for them that they do not want because those good deeds are in their "best interests."

LambonthronepicIt is interesting that one metaphor for Jesus is the Lamb. In Revelation, we behold the Lamb seated on the throne, which represents power and authority (see Revelation 4:13). If people were choosing something to epitomize power on a throne, we would choose the lion, tiger, bear, or something equally as intimidating. Yet God chose a Lamb, and then asks us to emulate the model He chose as Jesus taught in Luke 22:24-28:

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials."

So don't believe the lie that the propensity to abuse power resides in any one people group. It resides in us all, and while Jesus provided the cure, it has seldom been applied, even among those who follow Him and call on His name. Something tells me this problem is going to be with us until He returns again, so in the meantime, I need to look to myself to see not if but where this abuse-of-power tendency is present in my own life.


Twelve Tons

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Last Tuesday, the work of three years came to a close as a truck came to pick up the 17 pallets loaded with books and supplies for Kenya. The weight of the shipment came to 24,360 pounds, which is 12 tons of supplies for 10 different people and/or locations, including our main library in Banana. This week, I heard from Pastor Peter about how the library is doing and being used:

Here in Kenya we are all well and protected in the Lord. The WAPIS family is well committed in all its projects and we have seen God's favor. The school are closed for break and the students are packed in our libraries. The widows' gardens are busy in the garden and we thank God for rains. Karen school is in good progress and working hard. The music school continues training student and we are happy because of all our supporters for your kindness.

God bless you all.

        Pastor Peter

Pastor Peter also sent some pictures along for us to see the students utilizing the library. IMG_2061 IMG_2061 IMG_2061Our expenses are not finished with the container, for we must pay to have the goods clear customs in Kenya. Also, school fees for Mary, Phyllis, Obed, Gladwell, Deborah, and our other students will come due on May 1 when the children return from their Easter break. I ask that you help me keep our work going in Kenya by contributing toward either the school fees or the final container clearance expense. You can give through PayPal or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Once we have the container paid for, we will be able to do more for our partners since we have diverted money to finish the shipment. Thank you and God bless you!


Leadership Lessons from the Black Panther

By now, I think most of the world has seen the movie Black Panther, which has garnered critical acclaim and gained financial success. I won't critique the plot or make comments about the movie's BlackPantherPicsocial significance, for there are others more qualified to do that than I. Of the many things that impressed me as I watched the movie, however, there was one theme to which I do feel qualified to speak and that is the issue of leadership. Don't worry, if you have not seen the movie, I am not about to reveal any of the plot. If you have seen the movie, let's go back and look at three of the main characters: King T'Chaka, his son T'Challa, and T'Chaka's nephew and T'Challa's cousin named Erik, who assumed the name Killmonger after he ascended the throne.

NOT PREPARED FOR POWER

Let's start with the man who became the Black Panther after a duel with his cousin T'Challa. Erik or Killmonger was a military operative who was trained by the U.S. government to kill and destroy. When Killmonger became Wakanda's leader, he was the epitome of a leader who was not prepared for leadership. For him, power was to be used for revenge and domination. He became intoxicated with his position and the authority that came with it, and was determined to wipe out his enemies and reward his friends, who would in a matter of time become his enemies.

KillmongerPicThat is because leaders who use their power for personal gain or to further their selfish ends, even if those ends will benefit some people, have no friends. They cannot trust anyone, and history bears this out that those who operate from a power base are suspicious of anyone who may siphon away any portion of their power.

Consider Herod the Great of biblical fame. He was said to have killed his wife and two sons, and then mourned them for the rest of his life. Why did he kill them? He did so because he perceived them to be "against" him and a threat to his power. Why did Herod have all the male children killed in Bethlehem after he learned of Jesus' birth? Even though he was old and near the end of his life, Herod could not bear the thought of someone in his land who would have a claim to his power, the power he had gained and preserved through deceit, bribery, and brute force.

PREPARED FOR POWER

In the movie, we learn that both T'Chaka and T'Challa were royalty and had prepared to handle power all their lives. They had a royal mindset and used their power to serve the best interests of their nation and their people. Yet, both of them had to face difficult situations for which their were no guidebooks or directions. T'Challa came to find out what his father had done that helped create the Killmonger persona and he was shocked and dismayed, telling his father in a vision that he had failed as a king and leader.

Yet, when T'Challa woke up from his vision, he embarked on a plan to try and wrest the throne away BlackPantherPic2from his cousin the Killmonger and ended up committing the same act against his cousin that his king father had carried out against his own brother, T'Challa's uncle. In the end, T'Challa announced that there would be changes in the kingdom of Wakanda and that their technology and knowledge would no longer be hidden or hoarded, but would be used to help others.

The point is that even though T'Chaka and T'Challa were prepared to lead and handle the power that comes with it, they still struggled to know how to use that power. They left themselves open to be second-guessed, as all leaders must do, because leadership power is neutral until leaders apply their leadership and personal values systems to that power and utilize it. Then, peoples' lives are impacted and they will deploy their own personal values system to evaluate what the leaders have done. 

That is why newly-elected officials have the goodwill of the people until they make decisions. Those decisions will please some and displease others, and those leaders then find what the father-and-son duo in Black Panther discovered: Even if one has prepared to lead all his or her life, it's a tough job that involves decisions and judgments about how to use power.

In the end, the Black Panther made the right decision, for the most appropriate and the safest thing to do with leadership power is to give it away in the service of others so they can be empowered. Yet even that decision is fraught with danger and controversy, for then people will question the way or the speed with which the power is used or distributed. I came away from the movie desiring to use my leadership power effectively, while realizing that goal is subject to my own limitations, which is why leadership preparation is a lifetime pursuit one never fully achieves.


Kenya Update: Almost, but not Quite

CONTAINER UPDATE

I thought we had a confirmed pickup date for our Kenya-bound container last Friday. I paid $5,000 to IMG_0865 the shipping company who then worked with a trucking company to schedule a pick up. That date and time had to be coordinated with a friend who was arranging a forklift to be present when the truck with the container arrived. All was coordinated until we received 10 inches of snow here last Wednesday, at which time the trucking company cancelled the pickup. Then the trucking company called on Thursday to inform me that they had changed their mind and could come on Friday at 2 PM for our scheduled pickup.

Unfortunately, I had released the help and the forklift and could not get them back in time. Now we have to wait till the week of  April 2 to start the process all over again, and that involves the shipping company, the trucking company, the warehouse where the boxes are stored, my friend, and my friend's forklift connection. This is a perfect description of how this entire process has gone since last September when we first began the procedure to ship the container. Stay tuned for an update.

(You can click on any picture to enlarge.)

DAVID KOECH

I received an email from Pastor David Koech asking help in securing a small tractor to help with water DavidAmosGilberttransport. It will also provide a means of support when they rent the tractor out. I have asked for a confirmation of what he needs, which at this point I think is $500-$700. If you can give to this cause, please do so through my website or by sending a check. Info to do that is below.

UPAKO CENTRE

Here is the latest update from Pastor Francis:

Dr. J,
 
Thank you for checking on us/Mary is doing great and was with us two IMG-20180107-WA0001weeks ago when they came home for midterm holidays. She is in good health and doing well academically. Her academic standard is impressive and am happy for her. She will be coming home for a 3 weeks holiday starting 6th April 2018.
 
The teachers are doing great job at Dr. Stanko Academy and the children are gaining a lot. Thanks to you for paying the teachers. We have 12 teachers and we DSC01007  are grateful for the help you are providing including paying five of them. However, I am requesting prayerfully that the payment be extended to the rest of them if  possible so that we retain them to continue giving service to the children.
 
The ministry is going on but we are doing mid week services in the community and attending Sunday services at RCCG Mbagathi Road.
 
DSC00984We have not gotten beds for the orphans and still praying.
 
The bricks project is helping us and the money is used to buy food and pay rent even though its not enough.
 
Continue praying with us that we find a donor to buy us land and a van  for the orphanage so that we move towards sustainability. Just doing what am able to, for it's raining here. Find attached some photos.
 
Thank you so much.
 
Pastor Francis
 
If you can help with the beds, the teachers salary, the land, or the $600 we already send on the first of the month, please let me know.
 
Also school fees for all the orphans we sponsor will be due on May 1.
 
AFRICABOOKBAGZ
 
We are delighted that Joel Gray has accepted the position as director of AfricaBookBagz. Here Joel IMG_1090is pictured with our board (Cheryl is missing) at yesterday's meeting. We know you will be hearing more from ABB as Joel gets rolling with some of the ideas he has. It's nice to have young legs leading the charge!
 
JULY TRIP
 
It looks like I will be going over late July or early August for my first trip since last May. I will keep you posted, but I will do some training and checking on the container distribution progress.
 
Red Donate ButtonThank you for your concern and your help as we endeavor to serve our friends and partners in Kenya. You can donate directly through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and get in touch if you have any questions or ideas to raise funds for our friends.

"Here Am I, Send Me!"

I have been reflecting on Isaiah 6 the last few weeks and thought I would share my conclusions with you as they pertain to God's role and our role in fulfilling our purpose and being creative. First, let's look at Isaiah 6:1-8:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of PicIsaiah6unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (emphasis added).

What can we learn from this commissioning or calling?

  1. Isaiah's story began when he saw the Lord. He not only beheld Him, he heard the sounds that surrounded the Lord and felt the reverberations of the noise the angels created.
  2. When Isaiah experienced the Lord, he had what was probably an unexpected reaction. Isaiah saw his own uncleanness and inadequacy. He declared "woe is me" and "I am ruined." In other words, Isaiah faced his insufficiency to stand in God's presence or serve His purpose.
  3. Immediately, an angel swung into action, bringing a live coal from a nearby altar and touching Isaiah's mouth. An altar is where sacrifices were made, and this heavenly altar was a place where God Himself cleansed His servants.
  4. After the angel ministered to Isaiah, the Lord asked two questions: "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Let's examine Isaiah's response.

FRIENDS OF GOD

Immediately, Isaiah volunteered for the job opening that God announced. Notice, that while God spoke in the singular, He also spoke in the first person plural, indicating that He had discussed with other members of the Godhead the need to send someone to His or their people!

Isaiah did not wait for confirmation, pray about his decision, share it with anyone to get their opinion, or need to know the specifics before he said, "I'll go!" It seems that he was free to go or not go, but God immediately accepted his offer and spelled out what he would say, how the people would respond, and how long he would serve.

This scenario leads me to believe that we have more say in what we will do for the Lord than we sometimes think we do. Often people say, rightly so, that "I will do whatever God wants me to do." That is noble and  consistent with our role as servants of the Lord. Yet, we are also friends of the Lord, as Jesus indicated in John 15:14-15: "You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." As friends, there may be something in your heart that you want to do. Is it time that, like Isaiah, you say, "Here I am, Lord, send me" or "use me" or as I tell my college classes, "Put me in, Coach!"

Second Chronicles 16:9 states, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." God is looking for people who are willing to do His will, not those who have to be coerced and commanded to do it. As the Lord searches the earth today, I want to be among those He notices whose hearts are His. Will you join me as together we put aside our role as servant for just a moment and be friends of God in the tradition of Isaiah?


One Step Closer

Last Saturday, we took a big step closer to seeing our long-awaited container getting off to Kenya. We IMG_0865had 15 volunteers, most of them from Light of Life Rescue Mission here in Pittsburgh, show up to empty and consolidate the boxes in our four storage units. We then packed them on two trucks to take to the Light of Life warehouse. There we sorted them by color (they are going to six different locations in Kenya) on 17 pallets and then wrapped them in shrink wrap.

Now I am waiting for word from Missionary Freight Expediters of how much it will cost to ship a 40-foot container through the shipping lines with which they work. We are back to a 40-foot container instead of a 20-footer since it will be less complicated to pack a container with more space.

IMG_0874I spent $400 on Saturday on gas, tolls, and truck rental. When added to the $1,000 invested in boxes and tape, $500 on pallets and shrink wrap, and at least $4,000 on storage rental, we have invested about $6,000 so far in the project. I am guessing that it will require about $13,000 to ship.

That leads to the question: Is it worth it to spend all that money on used computers, 27,000 books, and boxes of educational supplies.

The short answer is yes.

Our partners in Kenya would never be able to find or pay for educational supplies. What worth can be placed on a young person leafing through a book and reading or seeing something that will change his or her life? What price can we put on a church having a community library to attract people from the community where the students can find a predictable environment to study, with textbooks and computers? We take for granted all those things, but they are rare in Kenya, and we are making a difference through the centers we have established. This container will only add to the impact we are having.

I am attaching below the fundraising letter I sent to my mailing list last week. I need your help to replenish my finances once this container is off to Kenya. If you have never given to my ministry before, this would be a good time to do so. Please read the letter and then give using Paypal on my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and please pray that we receive a favorable quote on the shipment and that it clears customs easily. Thank you and God bless you!

Download FRLtr2018-1


Cool Pictures

I received an update from Pastor Francis this week and a picture from Alice, so I am sharing what I got IMG_20180119_114551with you.

Dr. J,

We are grateful to God for everything.we have entered into the new month of February and we are all well. God has shown us mercy and has granted us another opportunity IMG_20180119_090212this new month without demanding for any payment. If it were that God was to charge us for the oxygen then we could be in huge debts. This is a new year and am trusting God for miracles. The children need a small parcel of land where we can start doing things in a more sustainable way as we continue feeding, educating and clothing them. Big prayer.
 
IMG_20180119_075802They are still using the mattresses on the floor so we need the small beds. Thank you for the continued support.
 
Stay blessed,
 
Pastor Francis
 
Alice didn't say much but her picture was from a school visiting day where Phyllis, Gladwell, and Obed IMG-20180203-WA0007are now attending, with your help. If you can help with the land or the beds that Pastor Francis mentioned, please let me know. You can make a contribution using my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and enjoy the pictures! (Click on them to enlarge.)

Fear

We are children of Adam and Eve, whose first act after they sinned was to hide in the bush while God AdamAndEvewalked by. Why? Because they were ashamed and afraid. Shame and fear are our two enemies as we seek to live for the Lord and walk in His ways.

We can quote, "God has not given me a spirit of fear" but that does not mean we don't have fear. In fact, in my 44 years of ministry experience, I have found that I am afraid and so are you.

You may protest and say, "Not me!" I would still beg to differ. If you insist you don't have fear, there are three possibilities:

  1. you may have conquered fear once and for all.
  2. you don't recognize the fear because it disguises itself.
  3. you have shrunk your world so that there are no surprises, so that tomorrow is like today -- and why did you do that? Because you are afraid you cannot handle the new day.

I doubt very much that you have mastered fear as described in #1 above, but if you have, pray for the rest of us.

If you need more convincing of the possibility you suffer from number 2, ask yourself why you don't go on a missions trip, learn a language, go back to school, or start a business -- or any other idea you have ever had that's new and different than what you are doing now. Within five minutes, you can think of all the reasons why those things are not good ideas. All those reasons are fear-based. If you don't have the money, you are really thinking, "I am afraid the money won't be there when I need it, so better not make the commitment to go (or do)."

And if you have settled into number 3, what is the purpose for your existence? Is it to do what you are currently doing every day for the rest of your life with minor variations? Is that living or existing?

Jesus said that we would know the truth and it would set us free. It's important to know where the fear is in your thinking so you can be free, that is, if you want to be free. Because to be free is to risk, and risk causes fear, and fear, well, then we are right back where we started at the beginning of this post, children of Adam and Eve, hiding with them in the Garden bush while God comes looking for us.


The Bible Project

I am preparing to preach at ACAC on Feb 24 and 25, and I am also teaching two classes this term (Personal Development and the Psalms) at the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry. As I prepare for classes and ministry, I am utilizing the ministry out of the Pacific Northwest called The Bible Project.

If you are not familiar with this ministry, I encourage you to do so. They have produced short (under 10 minutes) videos, using animated white board technology, to give an overview of biblical themes and the books of the Bible.

They have one of the finest ministries I am aware of to help people understand and study the Word. And their material is great for all ages.

Check out their site. You will be glad you did.