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10 Days of Revival in Nairobi

Sunday, Day 9

I am sitting here in the hotel late at night reviewing the dayís pictures.  Itís the faces that stare back at me that tug at my heart and say, ďI am a real person. Do not forget me.Ē Itís not just the kids, who love to ham it up for the camera; itís the adults that reach out a finger to touch my heart. They are the ones who struggle through what life has dealt them and who shoulder the burdens placed upon them with the grim resolution to keep trudging through to the end.

Maybe Iím just melodramatic, or perhaps I feel the contrast between the extreme conditions they live in and what we have in America. It may be that since they have never experienced the difference, it does not affect them that much.  They understand the poverty; they just donít understand the contrast.

But there are those who do.  They are the ones who have picked up the burden to minister to the others Ė some to their congregations, others to orphans and the destitute. But although you can see a trace of stooped shoulders from the burdens they carry, you cannot see it in their countenance.  Itís as if they have the touch of an extra shine given to them from God.

You cannot know the desperate conditions that wrap around their lives, even if you see it for yourself. It is more than the poverty or the unsanitary conditions Ė itís the dim ray of hope that hangs over them more like a shadow than a light.  If they could only reach it, they could pull themselves out, but it is too far for most of them to reach and so they fall back in resignation to the life they have been born into.

Those few who, instead of looking up to lift their own conditions in life, have stooped down to help the others in their destitution are the ones in which you can see an ethereal shine in their eyes. Itís hard to describe, and itís not something I have noticed before, but it is most definitely there.

This morning I have visited a church in the bowels of the Industrial Area slums. It is like walking into the city dump to find a church made of corrugated tin and wooden poles in the midst of the piles of garbage.  As a matter of fact, there is a whole community that has been built here, complete with stores, kiosks selling phone cards, kids playing in the heaps of trash, chickens, a wandering pig, and a set of railroad tracks running down the middle.

I have been communicating with this pastor for the last few months and have been waiting for this opportunity to meet him.  He is young, but strong.  His vision for God is set in stone, and his resolute determination to break through obstacles can be felt when you shake his hand.  He is a winner.

Since I am early, I am able to talk to many of the people and ministers who have come to church, and I am impressed with their understanding of the difference between the modern Gospel that is broadcast over TV and the bedrock realities of the old-fashioned Gospel that they know is true. Not only do I not have to tell them anything, they are listening to every word to see which Gospel I subscribe to. 

Well, you know me, Iím hellfire on wheels, which doesnít work so well in the States, but they love it here.  I guess I passed the test because they are genuinely happy to see me.  As a matter of fact, the services are loaded with pastors, bishops, and other ministers that have come all over Nairobi to hear me. There are some who have been at churches that I have preached at, but many of the others have only heard of me from others. All of them are here for the same thing: they want to be energized, driven, and goaded on to see a real move of God, even if it means being reproved.  They have not come to be flattered; they have come to hear the Truth.

My message is always the same: the price of revival, turning the focus from themselves to others, repentance and determination, and what it takes to walk in the Spirit of God Ė all basic stuff.  Someone has called me a ďRevivalistĒ, and I guess that sums it up, but it is not the message, but it is the Spirit of God which falls on every one of these services that makes the difference between church and revival.  Thatís what they are here for.

This service is no different.  I challenge them with a strong altar call for repentance before they can ever have the revival they so desperately want, and then I turn it over to the pastor.  Slowly, but steadily, they start coming until the whole church, bishops and all, are at the altar, hands raised, faces bowed low, crying out to God.  You can hear them pray from a half mile away. This is serious stuff.

Twenty minutes later they are still praying, and you can feel a cleansing in the air like something has washed through this church and released some heavy burdens.  Itís hard to describe on paper what the supernatural presence of God is like, and to compress the intensity of that experience into a short paragraph to be casually read by someone passing by.  All I know is that something happened here that was a pretty big deal, and I thank God that I got to be a part of this. 

My biggest regret is that Cindy and the girls arenít here to experience this with me.  The rest of you guys can go get your own plane tickets here, but somehow I want my family to see this instead of just hearing the tales second-hand.  The thing that cannot be relayed in print or in pictures is the presence of the Holy Spirit.  How do you tell someone what it feels like to be lifted up and enveloped in it? 

(Sigh) I guess you just have to come see for yourselves.

I have been here for 7 hours (Yeah. Try that back home sometime.), and they are coming back for another service in a couple of hours, but I am off to preach at my farewell service in the church we just planted in Kariobungi. That is, if I can drag myself out of here.

There are several folks waiting to have a word of prayer with me before I leave.  Each one has a poignant tale to tell.  These people really inspire me with their selfless vision for others. A couple have orphanages, others have churches, and sometimes several churches, but all of them have taken on challenges that are much biger than themselves.  These are burdens that only God can place upon you, because you could never handle them on your own. They want the man of God to pray over them so that God will help them shoulder those burdens and bring them to a place of victory. 

When I look into some of their eyes, the Lord shows me depths of soul that is beyond the natural. These are heroes in God, invested with uncommon courage and strength, separated by God to take on the impossible with nothing but their faith to drive them on.  They look at me as someone special sent from God, but as I lay hands on them I feel I am in the presence of royalty, that in the not too distant future, when I am walking by their mansions with some of my friends, I will be proud to point out that I knew them here. 

I leave deeply affected.  I pray that they have also been affected and will take what has happened to them during this service and spread a fire in their own ministries. This is how it works Ė someone strikes a match, and others carry the torch.

Back in Kariobungi, I am thrilled to see that the original 4 or 5 members in our little church have multiplied in one week to over 25.  The three brothers who are the ones who have started this church are the pillars upon which this church will stand, and I have no doubts that they will do what it takes to make this not only work, but prosper.

I feel like Paul saying goodbye to the Ephesians, and they feel the same way.  The members here donít really know me, but it feels like I am saying good-bye to close friends that I have known for years. It kinda gets me that even though I barely know them, they are really going to miss me. Iím not sure how to handle that because I am normally a cranky old man with a bad attitude and am not affected by all this warm, fuzzy stuff.  But this ;is really getting to me.  Maybe Iím just getting soft in my old age.

This was my last service in Kenya.  I am completely drained: physically and spiritually.  I have preached somewhere between 20 to 30 messages in these 10 days, and I have that ďfinishedĒ feeling that tells me that I have accomplished what God has sent me here to do.  I donít know how many lives have been touched, and out of them, how many have been transformed.  I can only give them to God to hold them in His hands of mercy and let Him bring them to that place that He intended for them all along.  I was just a nudge in that direction.

In the beginning, I honestly feared that this trip might be a vain waste of money to minister to a small handful of people, that nothing significant would really come out of it, and that I would end up being not much more than a fraud.  I guess that was the devil. (You think?)  I may never know what was accomplished here, but I have this sense that it was far greater than my expectations.  Years from now, strong oak trees will be towering over the landscape whose seeds were planted during these 10 days.  Fruit will grow and create more fruit which will in turn spread across Nairobi and Kenya, and who knows, maybe even the world. 

Something really happened here that I can feel but not describe in words.  What does this all mean for the rest of us?  Should everyone jump on a plane and run to some 3rd world country?  Of course not, but maybe we need to see a reflection of our hearts in all this. 

Life is good in America, but we lack something in our souls that these people are rich in.  Their existence may be threadbare, but their hearts are open to God in a way that is not possible when your life is satiated. They have the true riches that cannot be measured in new cars, beautiful homes, and all the conveniences of life.  You can see it in their eyes, feel it in their hearts, and hear it in their crying out to God.

Theirs will last when ours are long gone.