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Tuesday, Day 4

We’ve started the day with more witnessing.  I purchased a stamp to put the name, location, and phone number for this new church on the back of all the Chick tracts that we’re passing out.

The Chick tracts are in Swahili.  I don’t know what they say, but I know how people can’t help reading these little comic books.  Sure enough, as we walk through the neighborhood, everybody wants one.  Kenyan people are a very social people, and in no time at all, these tracts will be passed around the whole neighborhood.  This is the best advertising there is. 

Kids swarm me wherever I go.  Could it be because yesterday I bought a big bag of candy to hand out to them?  Maybe, but a lot of it is because I’m the “muzumgo” (the white guy).  I stand out like a white neon lightbulb, and they all want to touch me, rub the hair on my arms, and yell and holler at me. 

“How are yooo? How are yooo?”, they keep yelling at me in their lilting British-African accent.  I guess that’s the first English phase they learn in school.  Kinda like “Comment-allez vous?” which is about all I remember from six years of French.

We are out of tracts quickly, and it is time to run off to the “lunch service” in Nairobi.  All sorts of people show up here to get a little bit more of God during their lunch hour. Talk about a receptive audience, they are primed and ready for anything and everything they can get from me. Everyone is excited and wants to shake my hands after the service.  I don’t remember what I said, but I’m not sure it matters.  Just the fact that I am here is a thrill for them, so whatever I preach, they will listen to each and every word and hold it close to their hearts.  You can’t want for anything more than that.

After services, it’s back to where we will hold another open-air meeting.  While they are setting up the equipment, I sit on a stool by the side of the street and start reading Bible with whoever wants to join in.  It doesn’t take long before we have a sizeable group, all taking turns reading a chapter.  I think the thing that really gets me about this is that all I have to do is sit down and open the Bible for them to come.  Nobody ever does this for them, especially white evangelists from America, but it’s the thing I love the best.  To me this is the Christian’s idea of a party – get a case of Coke, open your Bibles, and talk about God.

Taking each passage slowly and explaining it in simple terms has the effect of bonding this group closer together.  The quiet, shy reticence that is their usual demeanor thaws as we walk through the Scriptures. Soon I am in the midst of a crowd of friends, laughing together as I act out some of the scenes we are reading.  This is really a lot of fun.

The amplifiers are set up and interrupt our reading group. An invitation to come to services is broadcast to the whole neighborhood.  Sitting right next to the speaker like we are, we got the message loud and clear.

Once the music starts, there is no stopping the celebration.  People are clapping and dancing all over the place.  These people love music, and the Gospel music draws them in from all over the place.  I feel a little bit like we are setting out bait to lure them into our “trap”, but they already know the score and they don’t care.  Open air preaching is something that happens quite a bit out here.

I am results-orientated, and sometimes I feel like I am a little too clinical or mathematical, but I want to see souls get saved, the sick get healed, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ be manifested.  I shouldn’t have worried about what would happen here because when the Altar Call is given, people start coming … and keep on coming, even after services are over. This is the proof of one’s ministry – winning souls and bearing forth fruit.

People come up to us with all sorts of needs, and we fill every one that we can.  We have run out of Bibles to give out, and that is with trying to make sure that they are only given to those who really need them.  The English Bibles go first, then the Swahili and Kikuyu.  What a feeling of fulfillment that we get!  I know that long after I am gone, those Bibles will be working on these souls with all the power of the Gospel to establish the kingdom of God.  I don’t know how far they will reach, but I get this feeling that in Heaven I will meet people who were rescued and saved from those Bibles.  Ain’t God great?

I am drained, and the picture of my bed back at the hotel is beckoning to me, but it is not to be just yet.  We drive to some new area that I’ve never been to before and I am asked to park.

“What’s going on?” 

“Services, of course!”

“What services?  What happened to the picture of my bed?”

“You have to preach here tonight.  The people are waiting for you.”

“What people? Why are they waiting for me?”

Surprise, surprise.  I am not prepared, have no message, and I feel like all the messages and Bible have already been poured out of me.  But there is nowhere to run, so I have to grin and bear it.  My only consolation is that, if I can’t deliver a message that is in the Spirit, at least I can run out the back door and nobody will see me again.

Again, I shouldn’t have worried.  This is not about me.  It never was about me, and it is not going to ever be about me.  It’s about God, and He has an inexhaustible supply of messages in His pocket, and He gives me one of them. 

I am excited as the message literally pours out of me.  Funny, I’ve never used that expression before, but that’s exactly what it is like.  You tip the pitcher, and it comes pouring out of you, straight from God, and when the Spirit is flowing, it takes control over the message.  I rarely even know what I’m going to say next – I just let it flow.

These people are also excited because they can feel the power of the Holy Ghost descend in this room.  There’s something in the air that you can’t see but you can feel – almost like invisible electricity.  You don’t have to be a genius to realize that God is here – right here! -- filling up the entire room. 

Then, halfway through the message, I feel the power of God crash down on me with a word from God for this congregation.  It is so strong that I physically shuddered right in mid-sentence. They felt it come down too, just as if God had clapped His hands.  It is a challenge that is dropped on them straight from the Throne of God, and they sit there, eyes wide and mouths open because they know it!

Wow, what a service!  And I thought I had nothing to give them … well, actually that’s true.  I didn’t.  God did.  And that made the difference.  They won’t be the same for a long, long time.

It is late.  I’m exhausted but the pastor wants us to come to his house.  (Oh please.) He must be pretty excited because he has shook my hands about five times now.  His wife has made dinner, and this is a tradition that you dare not refuse.

So we squeeze into his tiny apartment.  There are hundreds of these housing projects in Nairobi, made of crude block and rough mortar, inside and out. Even the counters and walls are made of coarse concrete.  The rooms are so compact that it is difficult to squeeze more than 4 or 5 of us into the living room.  It’s a good thing we’re all friends because we are practically sitting on each other’s laps.

As usual, we share our experiences and what God has shown us for the church.  This pastor, like so many others, started with nothing but a dream.  Knocking on doors, he gathered a small congregation and built it from there.  This is how it is done – a vision and a willingness to work that vision.

As we leave, they introduce me to a lady who is sick and is asking for prayer.  She has come because she had heard that the prophet from God was here and she expects a miracle.

It’s hard to explain exactly how they look at me, but it is close to celebrity status, and wherever I go they treat me like royalty.  A lot of it is because I am from America.  You have no idea how huge that looms in their eyes: America, The City on the Hill, Land of the Free (and the rich).  But there is also a belief that I have come from God, which is pretty much true.  To them that means hope.  Hope is in such short supply here that even the faintest glimmer will spark a fire in them to reach for it, and when they see me, they see hope.  How do I describe what it is to them?  It’s not me, but it is the desperate hope that God has not forgotten them and has taken the time to send someone to them to encourage them in the Faith.  It’s a sign from God that life may have passed them by, but God has not.

As I stand up and put some oil on my hand to pray over her, I feel like I have just entered into a cloud.  Something is about to happen, you can feel it.  As I lay hands on her, it is as if someone just threw the switch and the power just turned on.  Wow. This quiet lady, who has sat there without saying a word or hardly even lifting her eyes, has just turned into a dynamo.  Her hands fly up into the air, she’s praying at the top of her lungs, everybody in the room is up on their feet praying and shouting at the top of their lungs, and the power is turned on! 

As for me, I’m standing the middle of all this and I can feel the power flowing through me into this lady. It is like hanging onto a team of wild horses trying to stay on the saddle.  We are all shaking and vibrating, praying like we could wake up the dead, and jumping up and down with excitement.  Whew!  God has entered the building!

Now, I’m not sure what was wrong with that lady. Their accent is hard for me to understand, so I usually only catch half the words most of the time.  They explained it to me, but all I could understand was that she was sick. 

Well, she ain’t sick no more.

And although I am no longer tired, I do feel drained.  It’s as if a torrent has rushed through me all day long, and this last thing was like a dam burst and drained whatever was left.  I’m excited, but I am drained.

It is close to midnight when I finally reach the Guest House, and my biggest worry is that I am going to forget some of the things that I want to tell you, but it will all have to wait until tomorrow. 

 

Go to Day 5