Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Bit Excited

I usually don’t get excited about my trips overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and so grateful each time God gives me opportunity to disciple people in how to communicate the Good News of Christ cross-culturally. But excited? It’s hard to get excited about being on a plane 18 hours of a 26-hour trip. I don’t get the giggles when I think about being away from my wife for three weeks, the long hours of alone time after the classes are done for the day. But, as I sit here, two days from going to Kenya and teaching at the Africa Theological Seminary I have to admit, I’m a bit excited. Why?

First, because I just heard that 20 people from outside the seminary will be attending the cross-cultural church planting class, including 5 from Sudan and 3 from Uganda. All of these people are either in cross-cultural missions or want to learn more how they can cross cultural boundaries in presenting the Good News. These 20 people are all a by-product (if that is a proper term) of our 14 years of ministry in Kenya. The churches we planted continue to reproduce other congregations, now over 200. The training school we established 20 years ago, Makutano Baptist Bible Institute, continues to equip pastors, church workers and now missionaries. Yes, it’s exciting to see how God continues to grow that ministry and obviously we feel a sense of humble pride (oxymoron) knowing that we had a part in what He is doing.

I’m excited, secondly, because I get an opportunity to “influence” the national church on equipping and sending missionaries. One glaring failure of my time in Kenya was I didn’t understand the importance of challenging and equipping people to serve the unreached as most church planting in Kenya is mono-cultural. The local churches we established have never really been challenged to be a part of the Great Commission. Most of the students at the seminary I will be teaching at have never even heard about missions or cross-cultural ministries. The church of Kenya has always been on the receiving end of missions, but seldom, if ever, been challenged in sending their own to people different countries in Africa and beyond. I am encouraged; yes even excited, that missions is catching on, slowly but surely. The 5 people from Sudan are a result of one of the graduates from Makutano who went to Sudan and attended my class last year.

I am excited, also, because I will be speaking at the first church we established in Kenya in 1976. After 34 years, Paul Gichuki, one of the first converts in Pokot, not only is still pastor of that great church but also has emerged as the leader of the on-going church planting effort in many parts of Kenya and surrounding countries.

Five years ago we were able to raise $25K to replace the old mud classroom buildings with brick. They need more classrooms, beds, a library and a borehole, which will cost $75K. I’m excited about being able to take over $15,000 to the Makutano Bible Institute. We have a long way to go to reach that goal, but I am very grateful for the churches and individuals who have given to this project and I’m ecstatic that we can help this school as they have a proven track record stewardship and effectiveness in training. (To learn more about MBI project,
click here)

Finally, I’m excited that my wife and eldest daughter, Becky, will be along on this trip. Kenya “marked” our family for life. Sandy and I cherish our days in Kenya, the friends and relationships that were formed all those years ago come flooding back the moment we step on African soil. Our girls were formed in Kenya and hold strong identities of being TCK’s. Missions is kind-of-a Lewis family business and we are all apart of the Great Commission task in one-way or another (our other daughter is serving in Senegal, West Africa).

So, as I begin gathering lessons, packing and cutting the lawn one more time before we leave Monday, I’m really getting excited about this trip, though still not thrilled about the flights ahead.