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10 Days of Revival in Nairobi

Wednesday, Day 5

Mornings in Kenya have a fresh tropical smell that is great.  Even though Kenya sits right on the equator, it never gets really hot here and it never gets really cold.  Texas is actually hotter than Kenya.  This is perfect weather, and I am going to soak up as much of as I can this morning.

I have no meetings until 1pm, so I am lounging in the lush grounds of the Anglican Church Guest House.  Iíve met some interesting people here that have come from several different parts of the world.  Africa, Europe, and Katmandu are just a few samples of the eclectic mix that meets for breakfast. I tell them Iím from Texas, and even out here everybody loves Texas, so of course, I play it up for them. ďHowdy, howdyĒ, I say to one couple, and a guy at the next table asks me if that is some kind of greeting.  Oh boy, this is going to be fun.

Soon enough, however, it is time to charge into the battle of Nairobi traffic.  It has been said that if you can drive in Nairobi, you can drive anywhere.  Drive?  Is that what you call it? More like a cross between a video war game and a pinball machine.  As I enter the melee, I feel like Iím in a shooting gallery and I look like a duck.

There is nothing sacred, fair, or reasonable to the Matatu drivers in their minivans, but they are the backbone of transportation for the public.  For a few shillings, you can get to any location throughout Nairobi and its suburbs on these matatus, and get there fast.  As crazy as their driving is, their routes are well organized and the system works great. 

But they are crazy. They will charge down the wrong side of the road right into oncoming traffic, and somehow never get hit. There is some kind of weird flexibility to the traffic that gives and takes as they jostle through the ever-present traffic jams.  A couple of times I have seen a traffic cop get upset at a particularly crazy driver and beat his car with his baton, just like an angry parent with an incorrigible child.

I am praying constantly that my rental car doesnít get smashed up in all this insanity. Iím driving on the wrong side of the road in a car that is backwards in the middle of a war zone.  I have learned, however, that the only way to stay alive is to drive as crazy as they do.  ďOutta the way!  Crazy white Mazumgo behind the wheel!Ē  Believe it or not, it works.

Today is the last of my ďlunch servicesĒ.  The service goes fine, but there is no supernatural crashing down from the Throne of God.  They just sit there on the edge of their chairs soaking up the message.  I guess thatís what the Lord has for these folks because thatís what He has given me.  I donít control the message or the results.  Iím just the guy who showed up.  The rest is up to God.

Todayís schedule is pretty much the same as it has been the last three days, so I have to hotfoot it up to Kariobangi Estate for a Bible reading group and another open-air service.  Just like before, all I have to do is plop down a stool in the middle of the street, open my Bible, and people come.  In no time at all, we have a small crowd taking turns reading. They must have liked the reading group yesterday, because they have all returned and have brought friends.

Theirs is a very open community.  Thereís not much for facilities, garbage is piled up everywhere in huge ugly mounds, the streets are rutted dirt roads with huge potholes, and many buildings are only half finished because the contractor ran out of money. It is a depressing, dirty landscape, but no one seems to notice.  Either they just donít care, or they have lived with it so long they canít see it anymore.  But at the same time, there is a feeling that this is a real neighborhood, like something we had back in the 40ís.  People are hanging out everywhere, some lighting up a BBQ, others sitting in a circle playing dominoes, or just walking home Ė they are outside interacting within their neighbors, and it feels like a real community.

When itís time to start services, it begins to rain.   The Pastor Kibedi is proclaiming over the loudspeakers that God is going to turn away the rain, and he rebukes it in the name of Jesus.  Iím a little squeamish about proclaiming stuff like that, but hey, this is Kenya and you never know what will happen.

Sure enough, it begins to rain.

But get this! Just as if to exonerate the pastor, a rainbow appears, crossing over the whole sky, and then to top it off, we see a 2nd rainbow right behind it!  A double rainbow hanging over the whole sky!  You know what? I think this thing is going to work.

Not to be denied by the rain, we have plugged all the equipment in under a shelter and keep going on with the service.  A lady pastor from somewhere in Nairobi wants to be part of this with us, so we give her the microphone to lead the song service.  Once we are cranked up and the music is flowing, it lights up the whole area.  People are coming out of everywhere, dancing in the streets, in the hallways, and out in the open field.  Even down the street a couple hundred yards away you can see people up in the 3rd and 4th floor balconies dancing and singing.  The kids are all running around having a blast.  You should see some of these kids boogie!

All around us is discarded garbage and filth, mud and dirt, but here in the midst of all of it is this spot of truth and light.  I have to wonder if these depressing conditions are what makes their rejoicing so intense, or is it just in their nature to embrace life.  Whichever it is, they sure know how to praise God.

When it is time for the message, they introduce me as the bishop of this church. (Sigh) I give up. This is a very different culture than ours, and they have different ways of looking at things and different needs, and somehow they need to have someone to look up to. But although my message is heartfelt and poignant, there is no response from anyone to come to the altar.  Now, you have to understand that the loudspeakers have carried this message throughout the whole neighborhood for several blocks, so itís not like they didnít hear it.  It just didnít reel any of them in.

I hand the mike to the pastor to close services, and he turns it on! (The preaching, not the microphone).  He starts pulling everybody in to come closer, and compels them to come to the altar.  Over and over, his forcible preaching reaches out and drives them in.  Once there, he then brings them into a Sinners Prayer.

You may feel a bit apprehensive about tactics like this, but it is a measure of how much he believes the Bible and understands the reality of Hell.  He is desperate to show them the Truth and bring these people to Salvation and he is not worried about how he does it.  This is tricky stuff, but he pulls it off perfectly.  As a result, four new souls give their hearts to Jesus.

So much for the bishop!  Say what you will, but itís the pastor who got the results, not me.

It takes a long time for us to close down services.  Even after the mikes are packed up, souls are still coming up -- some to get saved, some for counseling, some to join this new church, and some for Bibles.

You have to be there to see their faces light up when someone receives their very own Bible.  It doesnít seem like that big of a deal to us because we are used to having several Bibles in our homes, and if we want another one, we just go buy it.  But for these people, the price of a cheap Bible is the equivalent of a weekís wages and there is not a dime to spare Ė not even for something as precious as a Bible.  They either share with others or do without.  If they do have a Bible, it is treated with the utmost care because they canít afford another one, and this is the Bread of Life to them.

Their inability to afford a Bible is sharply contrasted with their intense desire for Godís Word.  They want it desperately, but they just canít reach far enough to get it Ė and then we come and hand them their very own, personal Bible!  You just have to see for yourself what it does to them.  I guarantee you, you will never look at a Bible in the same way again.  Iíve spent almost $1,000.00 on Bibles so far, and we are almost out Ė thatís how fast they go, and thatís how great the need is Ė but that doesnít matter because I have already seen how God restores that money back to those who have donated to help buy these Bibles.  You spend the money, God gives it back to you, and you spend it again.  Itís a pretty cool system that God has designed.

There are not a lot of extraordinarily great things that I can point to in my life, but this is certainly one of them.  I look out over the faces of the souls that we have ministered to and realize that many of these people will now spend Eternity in Heaven.  The idea that we have been allowed to be a part of that is a very heavy thought indeed.

All this has made us late for the next service somewhere in Nairobi.  I have no idea where I am anymore, but it sure isnít someplace that Iíd like to take my kids.  We worm in and out of broken roads and dimly lit slums with dark alleys and bombed out dirt roads.  People hang out until all hours of the night in these spooky neighborhoods, and it gives it the appearance of some movie set for the Pirates of the Caribbean. In the middle of all this, we arrive at a tiny church lit only by candles.  There is no electricity or lights here, so I preach by candlelight. 

What really impresses me is that they have sat here for hours on cobbled wooden benches waiting for me, and they donít even know who I am!  Thatís how hungry they are for the Word of God. Granted, they have heard that God has sent a great prophet to preach to them, so there is some real incentive to waiting until I come, but that actually serves to make the service all that much better when I finally arrive.

I have given up trying to resist this celebrity status.  The more I tell them that I am just a regular guy, the more it becomes proof to them of how humble the Man of God is, which, of course, makes him even greater in their eyes.  There is no winning this argument. 

Letís face it, you and I both know itís just me, but thatís not the point.  Itís not me that they see Ė they see Hope.  Their situation is so desperate that all they know is that God Almighty has taken notice of their plight and has sent someone special to them.  They hang onto every word because God has brought His servant through much trouble from a far distant land to bring His message to them.  I suppose that is true.  All I know is that the Spirit of God always falls down on these services, and everybody is energized and edified Ė every time, and in every service.  Thatís good enough for me, and I dare not take that Hope away from them.

I am convinced that Africa is ripe for revival because it is like this wherever I go.  If there was ever a people whose hearts were open, humble, and hungry, it is these people of Africa.  While praying last year, I saw Africa like a savanna of dry grass stretching across the continent.  It was so dry that it was yellow and brittle and would crumble at your touch.

All that has to happen is for someone to light a matchÖ

I believe that one of these services in one of these churches a match will be struck that will light a blaze that, once lit, cannot be extinguished, and it will burn across Kenya and then Africa itself.

When the fire falls, I just hope I am there to be part of it.

 Go to Day 6