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10 Days of Revival in Nairobi

Monday, Day 3

What a day of running this has been!  After walking what seemed like miles this morning, I finally made it to the Bible Society of Kenya to pick up the Swahili and Kikuyu Bibles.  We had to walk for miles through masses of teeming humanity to get there (which was a whole lot better than attempting to drive there, although not by much).

Driving in downtown Nairobi is like rampaging through a war game of bumper cars with crazed maniacs.  The streets are filled with minivans-turned-buses driven with total abandon by young street hustlers fighting for the next fare.  There are no rules, and apparently no fear of consequences.  If it means driving at top speed down the wrong side of the road right into oncoming traffic or cramming 4 lanes of vehicles into a two-lane street, or jumping the curb and running straight down the sidewalk, then whatever it takes, they will do it.  This is offensive driving, not defensive, and if you want to keep from getting smashed up, you have to drive like you mean it!

That’s why we walked instead of driving.

And don’t worry about the pedestrians, because they are walking all over the streets like teeming masses of humanity poured over the traffic like syrup on pancakes.  When you are in the midst of it, you feel like you’re in a fire ant mound that has been stirred up.  It’s not just the number of people – “people, people, everywhere” to quote the Ancient Mariner – it’s the confusion of swarms of humanity running in every direction.  Just like the driving, you have to walk like you are driven with an intense mission, through the crowds, up on the sidewalk, into the street, around the automobiles, back on the sidewalk, back on the street, around this group and through the middle of the next…   It is not for the fainthearted.

Once armed with our Bibles, however, we were off to our first service.  This is a lunchtime service, and I’ve been asked to preach there for the next 3 days.  Did you ever hear of a “lunchtime” service? (Invite your neighbors over for lunch – I love it!) They are not uncommon here in Kenya, and that should give you an idea of how hungry these people are for God—services in the middle of the day with loudspeakers broadcasting the service out into the surrounding streets.  Try that in the States and see how far you get!

The place is packed and I’m asked to give a short 15-minute message as an introduction for the next few days.  This bishop is interested in building up to a crescendo in the next few days, even to introducing me to the newspapers, the mayor, and some sort of government agencies.  He’s talking so fast with that Kenyan accent that I have no idea where he’s going with this idea, but I warn him that I may not be the little darling that he thinks I am.  I have this uncomfortable habit of challenging the ecclesiastical “powers-that-be” and have made a strong stand against the corruption that is rife in the leadership of the Kenyan church. 

He pauses.  Then he gets up and excuses himself.  Oops.  I think I might have hit a nerve, and the deal is probably off.  Oh well, perhaps that is just as well. I’m not much for that kind of publicity and attention anyway.

But no, that’s not the case at all.  In fact, this bishop is extremely aware of the corruption in the Kenyan ecclesiastical circles (after all, he’s right in the middle of it), and he is thrilled to hear someone make the stand I have made.  He wants to promote this to the hilt and attack this problem head on.  I’m not sure what he is planning, but I will just have to leave that in his hands.  I’ve got 10 days here and very little free time to add anything new to the schedule.

As soon as the service is over, we are off to the first of several open-air services.  Have you ever been in one of these?  Very simply, you plug in some speakers and a keyboard and start singing.  In no time at all, you have a crowd dancing in the streets.  Give a message, call them to the altar for Salvation, and close with prayer for individual needs.  This is as simple a formula as you can come up with – if they won’t come to church, then take church to them.

Street preaching, as we call it back home, is not that effective or popular in America, but it works great here.  The songs turn this whole area into a block party with dancing in the streets, kids running around wild, and people all over, hanging out over their banisters and sidewalks to listen and have fun.  Hey, whatever works! 

We prayed through several people, including a whole pack of kids, handed out Bibles, and invited them back to read Bible with us tomorrow afternoon.  I’m told that as the meetings continue on, more and more people respond. 

This may turn out to be quite a week if that is so.


  Go to Day 4