Kenya Trip Ministry Report

GroupShotBestSome have asked me why I returned to Kenya so soon after my last trip. The answer is simple: there is a national election there this coming August, and things get focused on the election, which can sometimes be a bit tumultuous. So it was either wait until my next trip, which is in October, or go now to fulfill a promise I had made. I opted to go now.

My promise was to Pastor David Koech that I would come and conduct some leadership training in his  DavidJS area of Kenya called Kitoben, which is close to Tenwek Hospital in Bomet. Pastor David has recently been promoted to the head of the Bomet district for the Africa Gospel Church, which includes 22 churches, one orphanage, and 17 schools (12 primary and 5 secondary). The churches have spiritual responsibility for those 17 schools, and visit them all regularly to counsel and pray. They also plan special youth events throughout the year (by the way, click on any picture to enlarge it).

225InAttendanceI was blessed to see 225 people assembled for my leadership training sessions, all seated and patiently waiting for me to arrive on Wednesday, May 10. I had prepared an outline (with fill-in-the-blank format) and had purchased a copy of my book Life is a Gold Mine: Can You Dig It? from my Kenyan publisher. Since I recently revised that book, I took an outline of the revisions to distribute. I am so glad I did, for the participants treated those outlines with special care. I taught for a total of 14 hours with a Kipsigis interpreter from Wednesday through Saturday, and I was surprised at how attentive and engaged the people were! I had to contribute $1,300 to have this training, which included a generator, tea breaks, and lunch every day for four days. The books cost $1,200, but the $2,500 we invested was money well spent (that, of course, does not include LadiesTeaLine2my airfare or hotel expenses).

I had also taken an overhead projector, so I could project the answers to be put into the blanks in the JSRobeSpeaking2notes, and I left the projector there for Pastor David to use. He was so blessed and excited that he would be able to use it to show videos in the local schools. I taught on The Price of Leadership, and covered topics like biblical leadership, time management, purpose, goal-setting, and faith. I had more than a few tell me they had never heard any of that material before, and it all made a significant impact on their lives and ministries.

SundayMornYouthMtgI stayed over for Sunday and preached to a youth church, and then returned to the church where we had held the training to preach. I spoke to the youth about David and Goliath and the church about Hannah and her faith to give birth to Samuel. I then returned to Nairobi where I had meetings until I departed last Thursday.

This was one of my more difficult trips as far as logistics and travel went. Every one of my flights was PouringTeadelayed, the first one to the extent that I did not arrive in Kenya on Monday night but on Tuesday morning. That meant I spent two nights on a plane to get there. When I got over to Bomet (four-hour drive from Nairobi), I made the mistake of drinking every cup of tea that was handed to me, even if it was late in the afternoon. I was waking up at 12:30 or 1:00 AM and could not get back to sleep and could not figure out why. Then it dawned on me: It was the tea! I actually went through two nights without sleep, which made for interesting days of teaching all day with an interpreter. Your prayers and God's grace got me through, but I did sleep 10 hours the first night I got back to Nairobi.

DavidsCar2I have made a commitment to help Pastor David secure a printer and paper, which will serve at the printer for the entire district and the churches and schools therein. I also helped with his new car payments. He was in desperate need of a car to traverse the hills and dirt roads of his district. He also has an orphanage of 74 children, some of whom have AIDS and need emergency medical treatment at all hours of the day or night. Before his car, he was having to rent a motorcycle taxi to transport the sick children down the hill for the 30-minute ride to Tenwek Hospital.

I will be sending out my summer fundraising letter next week, but in the meantime, I need your help to TeaFields2continue the work we have established in Kenya. There is the need of the printer, along with the issue of rising food prices (the cost of corn and sugar has almost tripled over the course of the last few months). I ask that you search your heart and make a decision to help our brothers and sisters who are doing so much with the little they have. They have been faithful, and I would suggest that it is our duty to invest in their work out of the abundance that we have.

You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Every penny I receive goes to our partners in Kenya as the Lord directs us to give according to their needs. Thank you for your attention to and help in these matters, and I pray you will find it in your heart to help with a generous contribution.


Library Update; Leaving for Kenya May 7

I received the following update and pictures from Pastor Peter this past week: LibraryUpdate4

Dear Dr. John

The school holiday is still ongoing and the the students are well utilizing the library. We are happy because this place have become a beacon of hope and inspiration. We are pleased that in all our libraries the students have found a safe place for study and reflection. We wish to thank all our supporters for making this possible.

Pastor Peter

I face a busy week as I get ready to go over to Kenya next Sunday. In the meantime, life and ministry continues in Kenya, and I need your help if we are to make the most of the opportunities we have there. Here are some things for you to consider:

  1. School fees are due for some of the students we sponsor. I sent $600 yesterday and will have to send more next week.
  2. The salaries for the teachers we help at Upako are due this week: $600.
  3. I have sent over $1,000 toward the leadership training I am doing in Bomet. I would love to purchase three books to give to each of the leaders, but will need another $1,100 per book to do that ($3,300 total). I have put that before the Lord and if He wants me to give books, He will provide the funds.
  4. On top of all this are my expenses to go over to Kenya to be with the leaders and other partners we have worked with over the years.

I am not nervous at all, and just wanted you to know the things that I am trusting the Lord to do in the next few days. If you can help, or would like to share in any of the specific needs listed above, please give online using my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. If you looking for a place where your gifts will make a deep impact with no overhead, then I ask you to consider this work and others like them that I am involved with in Kenya. Thank you and God bless you!


Upcoming Seminars and Trips

I depart next Sunday for Kenya, so this coming week will be a busy one for me. I have a few things going on this week that you may be interested in, so I thought I would send you this update:

  1. Next Saturday morning, May 6, I will be in Beaver Falls to conduct a breakfast workshop for the L3 Leadership Beaver County Breakfast. The address is: Champion Life Church Offices, 2601 Darlington Road, Beaver Falls, PA 15010. The cost is $10 online or $15 at the door.
  2. Next Saturday afternoon, I will be on the North Side at Allegheny Center Alliance Church, for a time and faith seminar that will focus on productivity, time management, and trusting God to do more. Attendance is free, but you must register online or by calling Julie Federer at 412.321.4333, ext 102.
  3. Don't forget about the Israel 2018 trip. You cannot wait till the last minute for this trip, since space is limited and what is not sold soon must be given back to the tourism officials. Check out the information here and then register for the trip of a lifetime. Also, take a look at the trip to Rome after Israel.
  4. I am also planning my next group trip to Kenya in February/March 2018. The first informational meeting will be on Sunday, June 25, 12:30, at ACAC on the North Side. If you are at all interested, come out to learn more about the trip at that meeting.

That's about it. Let me know if you have any questions, and I hope to see you at some or all of these special events.

 


Need Your Help; Heading to Kenya

Two weeks from today on May 7, I will be heading over to Kenya to fulfill a promise I made last year. Our team could not make the trip over to Bomet when we were there in March, and I had promised my friend David Koech that I would come back and do some leadership training for his leaders in the area some time in 2017. After going back and forth, we worked out the dates of May 10-14 for the P1200176training. Here is a picture of David and his wife Sarah from one of my visits when we presented a check to them for their orphanage that houses nearly 100 children from nursery to high school age. I am also including a picture of David standing next to the wood stove that is used to feed those 100 children (click to enlarge). They are doing a great work in addition to overseeing the many churches DSC02086in the area.

I am making a trip so soon after my last trip because of the national elections that will occur in Kenya in August. The country will be preoccupied leading up to the event, and at times conditions can be tense. Therefore, I am going over now and then will go again in October after I have visited Nigeria.

The cost for the training is $1,350 plus some books that I would like to purchase to give to the leaders, bringing the total to $2,000, which does not include my own expenses of getting over to Kenya along with housing and food expenses. While I am there, I am sure I will connect with our other partners to assess their needs and progress in the ministry.

Please consider helping me with the expenses of the leadership training next month. You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible contribution to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for help, and you know I will give you a full report of my time there with the leaders who are doing such a great job and are worthy of our support. Thank you, and please be praying for my time in Kenya!


Support Your Local Teacher

Perhaps you remember last year's tragedy when Pastor Francis was awakened to find that his school UpakoTeachersthat was serving the Kawangware area had been destroyed by his landlord to make way for another building (ironically, it was torn down to make room for a church). This was a devastating blow at the time, but you generously gave $2,500 to help rebuild the school in another area.

UpakoDown9Well, I am delighted to report the truth of Romans 8:28 is still in effect in that God works for good in all things. On our visit month, we found the school to be in the best shape we have ever witnessed, with new, youthful teachers and a new spirit and vision that were palpable. The school has operated on a volunteer basis and all the teachers have taught until they found something else that paid a salary, which meant the students were adjusting to new teachers every few months.

In order to rectify this problem, I have made a StankoAcademySign
commitment to send $600 every month for teacher support. This will enable Upako to employ teachers and hold them accountable, will allow the teachers to settle into a secure position, and will give the students a chance to bond with their instructors as students are apt to do. I have already done this for March and April, and will continue to do so until the Lord directs otherwise. I am attaching a picture of the faculty from a recent visit to one of the teachers who just had a baby. One person has already pledged a monthly contribution to help with the instructor expenses.

On another note, I am proceeding with my May visit back to Kenya to conduct some leadership training with Pastor David Koech in the Bomet region. It will be a quick trip, but with my summer schedule and the August elections in Kenya, it is the only opening in my calendar that will work. I know that I am responsible for the expenses for the conference that will include books, notes, food, and refreshments. I will let you know what that the projected cost is so you can help as the Lord leads.

ContainerAnd finally, we are "inches" away from sending our container, having held it up as book contributions continue to come in. I have also ordered a supply of my own books to send over so i can set up a distribution center for sales in Kenya. All 750 of those books have to be shrink wrapped before we ship them, and that is a labor-intensive job that should be complete this week. Our goal is to have it on its way by June 1, but that will depend in part by the shipping company's inspection and pick up schedule.

I will be having my first informational meeting about the 2018 Kenya trip in late June, so be watching for the date and come if you are remotely interested in going with the team next year. But there will be much to report before then about the growing work we are doing in the great nation of Kenya, so stay tuned. There's more to come.


Kenya Trip Report 2017

JSAcademyI arrived home last Monday after another wonderful and successful trip to Kenya. This time I had 16 others with me and, as usual, they proved to be a tremendous blessing to JSFrancisone another and to the people we visited and worked with in Kenya. I met with one of the team members yesterday, and he told me that he is still processing what he learned and saw on the trip, and I know exactly what he means. It always takes some time to allow the Lord to help me work through what I learned and what my next assignment is once I come home.

JSGladysI am returning in May to conduct some leadership training for the pastors under David Koech's oversight in Bomet, so my next assignment is imminent. I am going back so quickly because the national election is in August, and everyone is being cautious as to what that may involve (at times, there is much unrest around the elections). I will then return in October once the elections are completed. JSPeter

Here is an overview of what I was able to distribute to our friends and partners in Kenya with your help ((click on any picture to enlarge it for a better look):

  1. Each One Touch One -- $1,600 (house rent, house mother salary, food)
  2. Each One Touch -- $850 (one-day outing with the orphans)
  3. Banana Library -- $850 (librarian salary, rent, furnishings)
  4. Karen Academy -- $750 (general use where needed)
  5. Upako Centre -- $2,450 (for teacher salaries, school supplies, and general use)
  6. David Koech -- $2,500 (for vehicle purchase)
  7. Clarence Matheny Ministries -- $1,000 (conference expenses)

JSAliceThat comes to a total of $10,000 distributed, which does not include the other blessings we bestowed on individuals who are doing wonderful work but doing it by faith -- they receive no compensation. My publishing company also produced a book for a young lady who has a testimony of how God is delivering her from a pornography addiction, and we did that book as a ministry project at no cost to her. JSConference

I try to be careful and not allow us to be the focal point for the tremendous needs we encounter when we visit Kenya. There is need everywhere, and we don't want people to see us as their source to meet those needs; only God can do that. We do not want to create dependents but partners, so we do not, and can not, meet all the needs we see. Yet, we want to be a blessing and allow God to use us in a way that keeps Him front and center in the minds and hearts of the people.

JSRuthI am planning another group trip in 2018, probably a bit earlier than this year's trip, since Israel is on the schedule for April of next year. If you would like to be part of next year's trip, please let me know. We will have our first meeting in June this year to start planning, and I would love to talk to you about what it would take for you to experience what I have come to love and look forward to, and that is a chance to take a trip during which God speaks and reveals Himself to me and us in fresh, new ways.


The Foundation of the Old

"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many" -- 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

Yesterday, we looked at Jesus' words that teachers of the Law will do creative things when they enter the Kingdom of God. Paul is a perfect example of what Jesus was talking about. The first half of many of Paul's epistles contains many important theological truths; the second half is full of practical steps of how to carry out the great theological truths. Paul's letters and theology, while inspired by the Holy Spirit, are also a product of Paul's creativity, for the Spirit was able to use Paul's background, experience, and unique insight to mold and shape the new doctrine of the church that was based on Paul's Old Testament foundation. While Peter had the keys to the Kingdom, only Paul had the creativity that could receive, conceptualize, and explain the Spirit's vision for the Church. Do you see that your preparation determines how much of your creativity God can use for His purpose? Do you also see that your ability to visualize and create the new emanates from how well you have mastered the basics in your field of creativity and innovation? Are you willing to pay the price to become proficient enough to do something new?

Lord, I have placed all the emphasis on revelation and creativity like Paul exhibited on the work of the Spirit, but today I see that the Spirit used someone who was prepared and primed to do the "new thing" that You were announcing. I want to be like Paul, but first I need to prepare like Paul so I can have older things in my storehouse of wisdom to join with the new things You will bring my way.


The Correct Interpretation

"He said to them, 'Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old'” -- Matthew 13:52.

Jesus was instructing His disciples that anyone entering the Kingdom who had been a teacher of the Law was in a unique position. That person would have a rich heritage of tradition, yet would also encounter and see new things that would enable them to creatively combine old principles with new concepts. We will see tomorrow that the Apostle Paul epitomized this concept, but for now, let's apply it to creativity in general. Most people believe that creativity is doing, thinking, or making something that no one in the history of the world has ever done, thought, or made. Most times, that is not the case. Instead, creativity is taking something old, like water, combining it with something else, like a plastic bottle, and meeting a new need (portable water available anywhere) to create something new but not unheard of. Do you have the ability to see how old things can be used in new ways? Do you see that as a function of your creativity?

Lord, I am guilty of misinterpreting creativity, and therefore I have not recognized it as such in my life. Yes, I have the ability to see new uses for existing things, and now I understand that is part of my God-given creativity. I am now free to be creative since it doesn't mean I have to invent or be creative like Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs to do so.


A Creative Confrontation

"The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, 'There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

'Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.'

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, 'As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity'" -- 2 Samuel 12:1-6.

Nathan the prophet had the unenviable task of confronting King David about his sin with Bathsheba, which the king had covered over for a year. Nathan knew if he was going to get the king's attention, he had to be creative and tread carefully, or else forfeit his own life. What did Nathan do? He drew on his creativity and told a story to David that caused David to react and pass judgment on what David had done, without realizing what he had done. Then when Nathan identified David as the rich man in the story, David had no choice but to confess and own up to his sin. Are you facing a tough problem that requires confronting someone, perhaps even your superior? Have you considered an indirect, creative approach that may soften the sting and open the door to real dialogue and even repentance?

Lord, this story is a beautiful example of creativity in action to address a difficult human problem. I need that kind of creative wisdom as I parent, lead, follow, minister, and counsel. I ask You to grant me the ability to confront with the skill and care that Nathan showed in this story.


A Creative Plan

"And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine" -- Genesis 41:33-36.

His brothers' creative lie took Joseph to Egypt where he served for 13 years, some of the time as an imprisoned slave. Then one day, he went from the jailhouse to the White House, so to speak, when he was summoned to interpret Pharaoh's dreams. Not only did he interpret them, he also created an on-the-spot plan to respond to the message of those dreams, which was seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed with his creativity, spontaneity, wisdom, and poise that he promoted him on the spot to the position of vice-president. Joseph was probably surprised at what had happened, for his response to Pharaoh's dreams was very matter-of-fact, giving the impression that this creativity was so normal for Joseph, he did not think it anything special. Do you have creativity that you don't think is very special? Do you see that your creativity can be the source for your promotion and success? Why then, are you holding back on expressing it?

Lord, I sometimes speak with creative wisdom, and people seek me out for my response, just like Pharaoh did Joseph. Help me to get past the "oh, that was nothing" mentality to seeing and accepting that my creativity is an important part of who I am and will help take me where You want me to be in Your will.