Dear GCI Family and Friends,
In the previous Update, I raved about the conferences held in South Africa and Zambia, and they were highlight events. But that was only part of our African journey. Susan and I also went to the eastern region with Superintendent Kalengule Kaoma (KK) to spend a good, long day in Nairobi, Kenya.
We arrived late on Monday afternoon, giving us time for a relaxed evening of rest. We were going to need to be well-rested to meet the rigors of Tuesday’s schedule.
Our day started with getting a Covid test so that we could board our flight scheduled for that night at 10:45 p.m. Thankfully the young man administering the test allowed us to do the mouth swab (I experienced the Q-tip in the nostril several times, and I am not a fan).
Once tested, Regional Director, Anthony Gachanja came to pick us up at the hotel. Riding across Nairobi gave us a feel for their culture. I made three observations as we travelled the busy streets. My first impression was how closely the cars and trucks tailgate one another—getting cut off by another vehicle is the rule of the road. Even with what felt like aggressive driving to me, there were no car accidents along the way. The second observation in traffic was how many passengers can ride on a motorcycle. It was common to see three people on a motorbike and occasionally there would be four. Amazing! My third observation was the abundance of Bible scriptures or Christian slogans on van and bus windows. A good reminder that the gospel gets displayed even in traffic.
Anthony’s first stop for our group was his home. His wife Jane and their four lovely children greeted us. They were so pleased to welcome us into their home. We shared stories around the table as we ate fresh fruit and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of the Gachanjas.
Anthony and Jane then took us to the Nairobi church building, where their pastoral team and key leaders were dressed in their Sunday best to greet the GCI President and his wife. I am deeply humbled by the reception I get from our members, and it continues to amaze me how many want to get their picture taken with Susan and me. I realize that it is the office in which I serve that they respect, and what a privilege it is.
At the church building, which is a remarkably beautiful and well-thought-out facility, we were given a short history of the building and a tour. They are just now completing a space with one room that will serve as a teen meeting room and a second room that will be the pastor’s office. It was wonderful to have a prayer circle with the pastor and pastoral team and pray a prayer of dedication over that space. From there we went outside, where Susan and I were to plant a tree to honor the occasion (in December 2021, KK and the four Regional Directors of Africa met at this location, and each planted a tree to represent GCI Africa and its leaders). Susan and I planted a nice-sized “Royal Palm” tree that we hope grows to be a healthy plant, just as GC Nairobi grows to be a heathy church. I love the symbolism.
If this had not already been an eventful day, we went from the church to a hotel conference room where we met with church leaders from across the eastern region. The countries of Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Kenya were represented, and the lead pastor from the Kakuma Refugee Camp was able to join us. I had the opportunity to give a presentation explaining GCI’s vision, starting with Jesus as the center, who we are in him, and how our ministry models and strategies are reflective of who he is. KK gave out copies of A Giant Step Forward (the book I wrote with Rick Shallenberger and Tom Nebel), along with the GCI Toolkit so that these leaders can continue to learn about GCI’s overall movement and its ministry concepts. We are coming to better realize that it is Jesus’ ministry, and we are privileged to join him and participate with him. As KK often says – “Hallelujah!”
The various leaders came bearing gifts, and Susan and I were lavished with many wonderful tokens of their love and gratitude. Several of these items will go into our Presidential display case in the Home Office where we can cherish the wonderful memories while honoring the faithfulness of our beloved members in east Africa.
We ended this good long day at the “Carnivore Restaurant.” It was a meat-lovers festival, giving us a taste of some of the exotic meats that Kenya offers. Ostrich and crocodile topped the list. The servers continued to come around with their variety of meats on long skewers until the group finally surrendered by laying down a service flag at the head of the table. As desserts were being served, Susan and I were whisked off to the airport for a late-night flight.
I don’t ever recall having such an eventful day with so many highlights packed in, and it was my good pleasure to assure Anthony and the eastern region that we will return for a full-length conference in 2023—God willing!
Still rejoicing in the good, long day,
We acknowledge the deep pain the violent attack in Buffalo, NY has caused our Black community. We lament with them and join with the entire Body of Christ in rejecting white supremacy. We embrace this statement from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE):
We reject white supremacy, call for justice for victims and their families, and exhort churches to combat attitudes and systems that perpetuate racism. We also lament the violent attacks this past week in California, Dallas, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Every person is created in the image of God and has inestimable worth (Genesis 1:27). (Read full statement here.)