Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pentecostals and cultural stress

I just spoke at chapel for the Assemblies of God Bible college. 250ish highly motivated students. I love speaking to pentecostals- when I preach, they preach back. You know that I get enthusiastic when I speak to US suburban calvinists (is anybody awake out there?). Imagine what happens when a few "amens" come back at me. I spoke to them about luke 15- the overwhelming, unconditional love of God. Good stuff, and it really seemed like God was working. Thanks for your prayers.

After about 10 days, I really start to feel cultural
stress. Nothing feels completely comfortable, and it's tiring to navigate linguistic and cultural obstacles.

Tomorrow (thurs), we travel back to Dar es Salaam. Friday AM, we leave early to fly to London, and then home, arriving in Chicago early Sat aft.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

finishing strong

I'm getting ready to speak tomorrow at Dodoma Assemblies of God Bible college in Dodoma, Tanzania. I've spent most of the day traveling through the countryside, passing numerous small villages. The students i'm speaking to will be serving in villages just like that - many of them already are. So the question is, what can I possibly have to say to them? I've lived a sheltered, privileged US life. I'm tired after 9 days of travel and ministry. And yet, i'm confident that God has brought me here. Please pray for me that I would find direction and strength (and that I would speak slowly enough for them to understand).
Whenever I approach the end of a trip, it's a dangerous time. I'm emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. I miss my family. I'm ready to go home. But I need to finish strong...

Monday, March 9, 2009

reflections on Nairobi

I've got 30 minutes before we meet w/ the leadership of the Tanzanian Assemblies of God churches. But this is Africa, so it be a couple hours. I'm excited about our opportunities in TZ, but I want to reflect on Nairobi for a second.
There seems to be a general estimate that 750,000 people live in the Mathare slum. Unemployment is about 70%, and those who have jobs rarely make more than 5-10 dollars per week. Schools are horribly equipped,and hope is nonexistent. A typical 20x20 shanty houses 6-20 people. Raw sewage flows through the narrow alley streets.
Outreach Hope Churches (a series of indigenous Kenyan churches) and the Mathare Valley pastors fellowship have invited us to train pastor-trainers in the Mathare Valley. We're still working out the details, but it's an amazing opportunity. These are pastors and church leaders who will lead churches that proclaim hope in Jesus, teach the Bible, offer education, counsel families and more- all in one the difficult places on earth. They are my heroes- Oliver, Joseph, peter, wallace, and many others.
We're supported in this partnership by Parkview Church in Orland Park, IL. Parkview pastor Tim Harlow arrived w his family during the training. He was very encouraging. Without our US partners, and our in-country partners, we couldn't do any of this.
Gotta run.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

next : Tanzania

We had a great time in Kenya - more on that later to

The slums of Nairobi are mind-numbing, but good things are happening.

Off to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania now...

next : Tanzania

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hope in Mathare

They estimate that 600,000 people live in the Mat hare an area of less than 2 square miles. They live in tiny shacks, packed like sardines - as many as 10 people in a 12 x 12 shack. Others are squeezed into 5-10 story highrises. No one really knows how many people there are in Mathare. But the material poverty is no more striking than the lack of hope. But I've been meeting people who are bringing hope to Mathare- they're called "Mission of Hope". Almost 3000 children are being educated (and loved) in their schools.Social workers are helping to mend broken families. And in a hundred other ways, this christian organization is BEING the church. It's a huge task, but the community is being impacted one life at a time. And we get to be part of all this...more on this later

Thursday, March 5, 2009

different side of the world, same cause

Whenever I travel internationally, I'm struck by how different things are - food, culture, weather, name it. And yet, as I meet people, I realize that we all have so much in common. Today, we met w/ Oliver and Joseph, two Kenyan pastors. They work together in an effort to raise up leaders and start new churches. As we talked, we realized that our hearts were in tune, and that we were very much on the same page. I'm from small-town Iowa, and I live in suburban Chicago. They serve in one of the poorest slums in the world. But we found common ground in a common mission.
Tomorrow, we'll be finishing preparations for teaching. I'm also preparing to preach sunday morning.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Planning" things in Africa

We arrived in Kenya on time Tuesday night. Doug Dunton, LRI Director for Africa, is with me, but his luggage is somewhere else- not the way we planned things. This morning, for no reason, I woke up @ 4 am...not the way I planned things. We are here to start up a second group of pastor-trainers in Kenya. However, there have been some "bumps in the road"- not the way we planned it. I had all these cool plans to blog, but I have no wireless - not the way (get the pattern yet?)

Fortunately, we have discovered several ways in which GOD has prepared the way for us, far better than we could have planned it. You see, in Africa, nothing goes the way you planned. But EVERYTHING is guided by the plans of our great God - and that's much better.

Tomorrow, we'll be meeting with some key church leaders, continuing to prepare for this weekends training. This group has great potential to impact 100's of thousands of people in the Mat hare slums. Thanks for praying!!

"Planning" things in Africa

Sunday, March 1, 2009

And one more thing

If you're following along, please let me know. I really enjoy hearing from people- and it lets me know if anyone is actually READING my musings. You can write me on facebook, via email at, or by commenting on the blog.

Getting ready to leave for Africa

I'm trying to get everything done before I leave tomorrow for Kenya and Tanzania. This is a challenge for several reasons- 1) I've never been to Africa before, and it's always a little more difficult to pack for somewhere new, and 2) I just returned from Oaxaca, MX eight days ago. I've been running around catching up on office work, and preparing for a new trip at the same time.

I'm optimistic about the potential for internet access on this trip, so I'm going to give blogging a shot. I've never blogged before, so I'm hoping you'll find this interesting. It will also give you a chance to take an "inside peek" into the ministry of Leadership Resources International. If you know of anyone who might be find this interesting (either on facebook or on the web), feel free to pass the link on to them.

Hopefully (and improbably), I'm hoping to finish putting together a "snail mail" newsletter that the office will send out while I'm gone. Don't waste your time checking the mail, though...there's a lot to do to get this project done.