API USA Blog

News from the field.

Mission to Bondo and Matete


API Biblical Counseling Director, Jay McBee and API Teaching Associate Reuben Luvanga, finished the biblical counseling training in Kenya and Tanzania with the two last conferences in Bondo and Matete this last Saturday. The Bondo conference was hosted by API associate pastor Fred Akello and 20 local pastors and leaders attended. Of this group, 15 pastors requested to enroll the the API/IBCD long-term biblical counseling training. 

API School of Ministry, in partnership with TGC and Ekklesia Afrika, gave the pastors copies of Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung and The Gospel. This conference was unique in that no translation was required. All the leaders were fluent in English, so we were able to add an additional lesson. 

The pastors were excited to learn more about how to meet the spiritual needs of those in distress especially during covid. "
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence."  ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬.   Pastors everywhere in Kenya have repeatedly told us that the society and even the church is in crisis. Despair is prevalent. They were excited to get so many teachings to help those in their care and show others the hope that lies only in the gospel. 

The last conference was held in Matete, the home of API Teaching Associate Pastor Moses Biketi. Moses has been a participant of API’s weekly zoom training in biblical counseling that started last year and a leader amongst the pastors in Matete. 

 
Because of the central location of Matete and the established work under Moses since last year, API expanded the conference to two days with eight teachings. Almost all of the pastors decided to enroll in the API/IBCD long-term training. 

 

Many pastors plan to attend the live on- line Module 2 training that will resume when Jay McBee returns to the U.S., while simultaneously attending in-person classes from the Module 1 training so that they can graduate with the first class. 

 

This leads to the launch of a new phase in API’s biblical counseling training. API’s local associate training pastors, led by Reuben Luvanga, will now be teaching biblical counseling to the pastors that are newly enrolling. We will be sending these training associates to train pastors in Megwara, Tanzania, Majengo, Bondo and Matete starting in June. There are now approximately 100 pastors awaiting this training, so we need your help to underwrite this effort.  Please consider funding this training by donating securely online and clicking here. Be sure to choose 'Pastoral Development' on the drop-down menu.  Please pray for this ministry as we train and send out more workers into the field.
 

 

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Kakuma Refugee Camp

Saturday May 22, 2021

Today George, Boniface and I traveled to the refugee camp at Kakuma to meet with Pastor Stephen Lobolia and a diverse group of pastors and church leaders. These people are refugees from Burundi, Congo, and South Sudan. We spent some time with them, singing, sharing, and encouraging them through the Word.  Because there were so many languages present, Toposa, Jie, Congolese, Burundi and Turkana, we had to translate everything at least twice, sometimes three times, but it was clear they were blessed by our time together.




The young man below is Marino, a Toposa refugee from South Sudan.  He was a soldier who became disillusioned by the constant fighting and killing and eventually fled to Kenya, winding up in Kakuma.  But in South Sudan he was also wildly popular as a singer called 'Cruel King'.  Pastor Stephen, who knew of him and his singing, found out he was in Kakuma and arranged a meeting with him.  Over a period of weeks they became friends as Stephen shared the good news of Jesus with him.  Through that friendship, Marino came to Christ and is now on fire for Jesus!  Along with many of the young men in the photos above, Marino is being discipled by Pastor Stephen on a weekly basis in his church. Their goal is to return to their homelands to share Christ with their people.  Please be praying for this work that is bearing fruit in the desert.



 


 
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Travels in Turkana

Friday May 21, 2021


Wednesday I traveled with Pastor Lokwawi (2nd from the left) and Pastor Lokuruka (4th from the left) to Lokitaung, a village in the far north of Turkana, to meet and encourage some of the pastors in the area. This is a very poor area, even by Turkana standards, and life is hard for these people. They were greatly encouraged by our visit as this area is rarely visited  by muzungus and they have no bible training opportunities.


We were hosted for chai at a local pastor's home (his wife is pictured below) and our driver, Paul, made friends with his daughter.

We also took the opportunity to visit the prison where the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta was held by the British for seven years. 

We walked over to the cliff where Kenyatta was dangled by the guards and threatened with death if he didn't inform on his people. (He didn't and the guards didn't drop him).

On our way out of town, we stopped at the oldest mission established in Lokitaung in 1957, the Salvation Army church and school compound and met with the current Salvation Army missionary, Lieutenant Eunice Ndukyu.

Of course on the way back we had the inevitable tire puncture.  

Thursday we spent traveling in the bush to two different locations where we met local pastor's fellowship groups to share some encouragement.  The first stop was a place called Nasiger where we shared some time with 20 or so pastors and church leaders. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures:( 

We next traveled to Nakwamunyon where we met with the local pastor's fellowship under a convenient tree.

These men were greatly encouraged to hear about API's pastoral training and assured us they will join us this August for our annual Lodwar conference. 

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our time here. God is blessing us in marvelous ways and the pastors and church leaders send all of you, our support team, a heartfelt thanks for facilitating this mission!
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Tanzania Mission Day 2

Thursday May 20, 2021

Our Tanzanian team, Jay McBee, Reuben Luvanga and Stephen Muntet, finished their time with the Tanzanian pastors and church leaders on Tuesday.



The following is a short report from Jay.

Town Mirowua TAG Church in district Loliondo
Pastor Steve Muntet, our driver and Maasai team member, was to be the beginning of the story in Tanzania.  He explained on the way that he had come with a team to this town in 2000 to preach the gospel.  They walked 90 kilometers to get there.  When they spoke to the people of this village, they did not understand the concept of Christ, God in human flesh, who would save them from their sins. The idea of Jesus was so foreign to them that they asked - 'Who is this man Jesus?  What town does he come from? When will he come here?'

Stephen is on the left
Stepen would see first-hand how the work had grown.  There are now 24 churches in the area of this village.  We were teaching discipleship in the village that had not even heard the name of Jesus 20 years ago.  Steven was a late addition to the team and this was God's providence that he joined us. 

On our trip to the church, we were introduced to the father of the church leader Elijah as the father tended his animals.  He has 60 children and five wives.  This is very common in Maasai territory. Reuben spoke of the biblical principles of marriage and the purpose that God has for it - centered around it modeling the relationship of Christ and the church.  Steven, stood up after our teachings and declare how God had blessed him, a Maasai, as he walked in obedience to God's model for marriage. 

Pastor Masago, the leader of the church while the Bishop was away, commented that the teachings had been transformative for his church and invited us back to teach some more.  FYI, Jay was the first Mazungu, or white man, to ever teach from his pulpit.

Stephen also had a chance to spend some time with the young man serving the team in the hotel and he gave his life to Christ the morning the team left. We want to thank Ekklesia Afrika for ther generosity in providing us with excellent resources to give to these pastors and church leaders.

Thank you for your prayers for our team as they continue to share the word of God.  Jay and Reuben took off Wednesday for Bondo and another short one day conference there.  They will be traveling Friday to Matete for a two day conference with pastors and church leaders.

The following is Pastor Stephen Muntet's account of the trip.

Love and greetings to you our Beloved API Director and all beloved ones serving God beyond boundaries, 

though of challenges in safari to Tanzania especially in the border in Isibania where we found one drunk man asking us of facilitation fee and I told him to look at my chest i was wearing API budge on my neck and after that he retreated but all in all i knew its not always easy in saving God faithfully but it's with great joy in my soul  that after 20 year's of visiting our neighboring country Tanzania in the county of Loliondo I once again got the privilege through API Office     (Director Pastor Mike) to visit Mairowua village where I told people about the good news of Jesus Christ in the year 2000 April, 

On my arrival I was shocked to find a construction of the church was done in the same ground where I was doing witnessing and a number of people received Jesus Christ in the same ground and in the meeting I also found one of the church elders Brother Jacob where he received Jesus Christ at that time, and also found many of our Mara Shiners school kids parents are from the same village. 

I also want to say thanks for giving me an opportunity to translate the teachings to Maasai language and thanks to God that the last day of our departure one young Man who was giving us hotel service received Salvation through repentance we prayed together and he is now a Christian. Thanks to Jay and Luvanga who helped to bring transformation to Land of Oloolaimutia and Tanzania God bless you God bless API. 

in His Service for Christ

Pastor Steve Muntet. 

 

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Tanzania Mission

Wednesday May 19, 2021

I arrived in Lodwar yesterday in the morning and am heading to Lokitaung this morning to meet with the pastors in that city.  But I thought I'd catch you up on the doings of the Tanzanian Team.

Last Saturday after the conference in Megwara, Jay, Reuben and Pastor Stephen Muntet left for Olosakwan village in Tanzania for a two day biblical counseling conference.  Unfortunately, the closest border crossing did not have a visa office so the team had to travel 5 hours in the opposite direction to obtain a visa for Jay. They overnighted there, intending to cross into Tanzania but the fees for vehicle registration, travel permits and other charges amounted to about $300 so they decided to drive back to where they started and cross at the place they originally planned to cross where there were no fees to pay. They eventually arrived late Sunday in Olosakwan in time to begin the conference on Monday morning.  They look remarkable refreshed here Monday morning at breakfast!

This is Olosakwan where several years earlier Pastor Stephen was the first to bring the gospel. A church was established here then, and since that time several more churches have been raised up in the surrounding area. It is the pastors and church leaders from those churches that have come here for the conference.

Jay had the opportunity to try the traditional Masaai drink of sour milk out of the traditional gourd.  He was not impressed! The first day was well-attended by about 80 or so pastors and church leaders.



Jay and Reuben will be updating us on their trip later today and I'll let you know about the conclusion of the conference. Meanwhile, today the team is traveling to Bondo to hold a one day conference there.  Please keep us in your prayers as we travel!

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Megwara Conference

Monday May 17, 2021


Back in Nairobi and I'm finally getting caught up on the blog!  A lot has happened in the last week but I wanted to catch you up on our Pastors and Church Leaders Conference in Megwara that ended Saturday.  We began the conference, The Man of God Fully Equipped on Wednesday of last week.  We had about 60 pastors in attendence initially but by Friday we had registered 187 pastors and church leaders.  We held the event in Pastor Daniel Sayiaton's Deliverance Church in Megwara.

Our theme was taken from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."  


Pastor Daniel interpreting

We also had Pastor Reuben, one of our API Associate teachers, and Jay McBee, our Director of Biblical Counseling, teaching on the subject, and by the end of the conference we had about 15 to 20 pastors who wanted to go on to complete the biblical counseling training.  A big part of equipping the pastors is teaching them to counsel their people through the word of God.  The majority of Kenyan pastors have not understood that the word of God is sufficient for every need and as a result, there is almost no counseling from the word of God in their churches.  Many rely on 'deliverance' ministries or secular psychology to help their members. 

Pastor Reuben


Jay McBee

Moses Biketi, another API Associate, joined us in teaching during the conference.  He and Pastor Reuben have been instrumental in taking the API training to pastors in Uganda.

We have been teaching and training in the churches in this area since 2017, and more and more churches are coming each year to our conferences. At least five pastors we have known since we began coming to Megwara, took me aside to tell me that since API has been coming, the churches here have really changed, and clearly preaching the word of God has become so important.  We have been so encouraged to see the way many these pastors are coming early and staying late and asking great questions during our Q & A sessions.

At the end of our conference we gave out the book resources and as always these pastors and church leaders were so grateful.  Thank you to all who gave to make this happen!



Our conference director, Pastor Shadrack, did a marvelous job all throughout the conference and especially in arranging our midday meal. Here the ladies are preparing our lunch.

Our API Associate John Kamau helped in so many ways. Along with Reuben Luvanga, he was in charge of media production but he did so much more, including helping with the meals.

On Thursday last week, Kim and Laurel and Frank came to Megwara and met up with us at the conference.



While we were in Megwara we all stayed at Manyatta tent camp.

Where Jay found time to whittle a new point on his pencil, where everyone shared dinner nightly and where Pastor Benson Ntuntai and I shared some laughs.

Thank you all for your continued prayers for our team and mission.



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Agape Care Net

Sunday May 16, 2021

Our last two days with the saints at Agape Care Net.

Laurel was able to do one of her favorite things, ultrasounds, both Tuesday and Wednesday she worked with Allan, the sonographer from the hospital.  He is a wonderful follower of Christ and excellent at what all he does. She also worked with Priscila Ja, a clinical director. She is a sweet, gentle, godly young lady.





Kim stayed down the trail from the clinic at Maurine’s home. She went over a lot of client care and procedures regarding pregnancy test, healthy relationships, some cool tools for sharing the gospel, ministering to the women who comes in thinking abortion is her only alternative, i.e., options education, ministering to men, parenting, healing after abortion and more.  They had great questions, we talked about how to modify and use the tools I brought to use in their own clinic.  This sounds like a lot but mostly the Holy Spirit led each moment of every session every day. God truly equipped us to do this. Laurel and I were astounded at the ease of fellowship, sharing and learning both ways.  God had this covered from ancient days, Eph 2:10.

I loved Washington’s heart to help men.  He has two young boys and wants to raise them to love and serve God.

Laurel, Washington, Michael, Faith

Sweet, shy, young Faith was there every day with her baby daughter.  She has much to offer the young women that come to Agape Care Net.

Rachel, quiet and taking everything in, because of her close relative’s experience, wants to help post abortive women learn to forgive and be set free in Jesus’ name.

Rachel and Maurine

Valarie got to be there the first day and she is the lab tech.  She is kind, smart and thoughtful. She also has a little baby girl and is still going to school studying microbiology.  She wants to use what she knows to help, too.

Dorine and Valerie

Dear Michael, a young man that does the photography, video and works in the techy shop next to Agape Care Net.  He also wants to minister to young men. He is joyful and contagious in his faith.

Maurine Luvanga directs Agape Care Net, speaks at the schools about sexual integrity and healthy relationships and meets with the pregnant ladies who come into the clinics.

Reuben Luvanga also directs the clinic with his wife. If you have read the Agape Kenya blog, you will know him well.  He has many roles and does them all with quiet fortitude and confident strength that only comes from the One he relies on, Jesus Christ.

The last hour of my and Laurel’s time with these precious saints was a ‘sweet’ celebration with chocolate, of course, and spicey ginger cookies (Frank’s choice ☺). We asked if they would share their stories of how they came to trust Christ as their Savior.  Wow, some were so incredibly hard and here they are loving and serving others because God loved and saved them.

Left to right: Laurel, Priscila, Kim, Washington, Faith, Maurine

Lastly, Maurine and Washington shared how much it meant to all of them that we came from so far to really and truly help and bless them.  OK, so we shed a few tears. We just can’t stop thanking God for such a time as this.  Laurel and I are in awe of our great and mighty, kind and loving, gracious and forgiving God.



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Biblical Counseling Training

Monday, May 10, 2021

Bethel Training - Majengo


Jay McBee and Pastor Reuben Luvanga held the first of a series of one-day Biblical Counseling Trainings at Bethel Holy Spirit Church in Vihiga County on Monday.  The pastor, Bishop Peter Asava heard of Biblical Counseling through another pastor who attended the November 2020 Biblical Counseling conference in Matate taught by API. 


API Associate Reuben Luvanga recently started teaching the leaders at Bethel along with neighboring pastors the API/IBCD curriculum.  To expand this new effort, Jay McBee, came to do teachings on God's purpose in trials and how to fight temptation.  The teachings were enthusiastically received and many of the group now intend to enter into the API/IBCD year-long biblical counseling training. 




API, through the generous gift of P&R Publishing, presented gift copies of the Paul Tripp book Instruments in the Redeemers Hands to the attendees of the conference. Bishop Asava is now looking forward to having many of the people in his church become trained counselors and to start a biblical counseling center at Bethel Holy Spirit Church.

API is also pleased that two of API Associate Pastors John Kibisu and Aniset Monyi are joining the biblical counseling teaching team and along with Jay McBee and Reuben Luvanga will be teaching  the Biblical Counseling Conferences in Bondo and Matete.

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Agape Care Net

Monday, May 10, 2021

Day One at Agape Care Net in Majengo, Kenya.

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Laurel and I met with six of the volunteers today in Rueben and Maureen Luvanga’s home. 

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We spent the day sharing each of our stories about how God called us to be involved in the work of pregnancy and family centers.  Each story was different and so precious. 

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One man saw such a big need in the community for so many things and wanted to help.  God introduced him to Agape Care Net and this is where he feels called to influence men to be responsible young men, husbands and leaders.

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One woman’s relative was forced to have an abortion by her parents and blames them. So, this lady wants to help women in similar situations as her cousin to learn about the freedom that comes from forgiveness.

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After our stories we asked them what they most want to learn and this is what they said:

~How to reach the girl who thinks abortion is her only alternative

~How to help with baby supplies for the young women who choose to keep their babies

~How to help young men to manage their emotions

~How to advise young men to take responsibility for the pregnancies instead of denying and making excuses.

~How to be effective and see results.  Solutions.

~Recovery after abortion

We are excited to see what God is doing in the hearts of these men and women who care about life and care about the gospel, and are ministering selflessly in their community. Please be praying for Agape Care Net as they bring hope and healing to their people.

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Majengo

Monday May 10, 2021

Saturday was a travel day for us, and we spent all day traveling to Majengo as the traffic was very heavy nearly all the way there. But to be honest, we didn't really push ourselves, and had several stops along the way.







Of course one of those stops was Java House at Nakuru for lunch.


John and Frank are especially fond of Java House pork ribs. But chips for John and ugali for Frank.


We arrived at our hotel near Majengo around 6:30 that evening, and after dinner basically fell into bed.  Sunday morning found us at Agape Christian Fellowship for a time of singing, praying and preaching.  For some reason Pastor Reuben had both Jay and I preach, and I have to say the congregation bore that double burden very well. 


During the service, little Precious Kim, Pastor Reuben's daughter, found her namesake, my Kim.


Afterwards, we all went to Pastor Reuben's home for a wonderful lunch and fellowship.



Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. Monday Kim and Laurel begin their teaching at Agape Care Net and Jay will be at Bethel Holy Spirit church for some Biblical Counseling training.
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Spring Mission 2021

Saturday, May 7, 2021

Greetings from Nairobi!

It is 4 am here in Nairobi and both Kim and I are wide awake so I thought I'd make the most of the inevitable jet lag.  Kim and Laurel and I left Wednesday from SeaTac to Amsterdam and then Nairobi. Between the three of us we had seven full suitcases, three carry ons, and our personal items.  Fortunately Laurel's husband Ron has a big crew cab pickup and he took all of us to the airport.

 

Not a lot of people seem to be traveling internationally these days so we had lots of room on the 9 hour flight to occupy whole rows of seats to take a horizontal snooze on the plane. So I think we arrived fairly rested in Amsterdam where we met up with our other American team member, Jay McBee.

 

We arrived late Thursday night checked in and went to our rooms.  Kim and I went up to ours to crash as it was around midnight.  I opened the door and was fumbling for the light when we heard a woman's voice from the darkness, "Who's there?" Apparently the desk had given us a room that was already taken!  I was so startled all I could say was "I'm so sorry!" and literally ran out of the room. Eventually we got to bed around 1 am, and after a short night we met for breakfast and morning devotions in the dining room.  I'll be asking the clerk if the room is already occupied from now on when I'm checking in.

It was great to be able to share with each other the stories of God's faithfulness toward each of us.  We have been praying this past month that the five county Covid restrictions would be lifted so that our trip would be without travel restrictions.  And Sunday the Kenyan president announced a loosening of the travel restrictions including domestic vehicle and air travel.  Jay's pastor, Tim Bourgeois shared with me God's amazing provision for Jay on this trip as he needed $4,125. As it happened, the offering that was taken for this trip came to...(wait for it!)...$4,125!! I don't know why we are surprised by God's incredible provision but we always seem to be taken aback every time it happens.  And in so many more ways God has proven Himself faithful on this journey that we could spend the rest of this blog telling you about them all.

But the rest of Friday was spent getting the necessary supplies for the rest of our trip - malaria meds, bulk hand sanitizer for the conference, packing and repacking books and other materials, and of course, heading to the Maasai Market. Baskets were big on the shopping lists.

We also visited John Kamau's family estate where his wife and mother and family welcomed us for chai.  John is one of our API Associates in charge of Logistics and Media.

Tomorrow we head out to Majengo.  Thank you for keeping us in your prayers!

 

 

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Travels in Kenya - Majengo, Matete, Eldoret

Pastor Joshua Lemuya in traditional wedding finery at his friend's wedding.

Sunday morning Frank and I left Bondo and traveled to Majengo to preach at Pastor Luvanga's church.  Afterwards we ate lunch at his place and spent some time talking about the ministry he and Maurine have in the community. And taking pictures of their cute kids!

We also delivered the ultrasound machine we brought from the U.S. Needless to say, both Reuben and Maurine were overjoyed to receive such a gift for Agape Care Net Clinic. This ultrasound was donated to Agape Care Net by the 4US foundation here in the U.S. and we are grateful to them for their generosity.

They are relocating the clinic to a much larger space to accommodate the growing ministry.  You can see the new space below where both the pharmacy (on the right) and the counseling centers (on the left) will be. 

Reuben is investing in a pharmacy to provide the means to offer free counseling and ultrasound services in the center. This young ministry has already been a big blessing to the community and the county of Vehiga. The unplanned pregnancy rate and incidents of incest have really skyrocketed during this time of pandemic and shutdown, and Agape Care Net has been getting many requests for their services. One of the services Agape Care Net offers is free sanitary pads. This may not sound like much to us, but for young Kenyan girls, these pads are a commodity that are difficult to obtain. To even earn money to buy pads, some girls have resorted to selling their bodies. API donated the first round of sanitary pads to the clinic, but this is an ongoing need for the community.

Please join us in supporting Agape Care Net and the sanctity of human life by giving to this project. To give securely online for this, please visit the Summit Christian Fellowship website here and choose 'API Kenya: General'. Your gift means lives transformed.

From Majengo, we traveled to Matete where Pastor Moses and his wife live. We ate dinner at their home and spent the evening catching up and planning future events.

Finally the next morning we traveled to Eldoret where we caught up with Pastor Shadrack at his church.

Pastor Shadrack is our API Director of Education in Kenya, and our API Conference Director.  We spent some time planning future events and discussing ways to put a concrete floor in his church.  The government here has come out with a new directive that bans services in churches with dirt floors.  I'm not sure how that works in places like Turkana!

Tuesday, Frank and I drove back to Nairobi to wrap things up for this trip and fly out on Thursday.  However, when I got to the check-in counter early Thursday morning, I was informed that my flight had been cancelled! So I got to spend another night in Nairobi and fly back on Friday.  Thank you all for keeping this ministry in your prayers. God has been exceedingly gracious and blessed us abundantly throughout this long trip.

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Travels in Kenya - Olulamutia, Bondo

Last Wednesday, I wrapped things up in Lodwar, said goodbye to all my friends, and flew back to Nairobi.  

Thursday, Frank and drove down to Olulaimutia, where we were to have had a pastors conference this past April. We met with several of the pastors to plan the next conference.  One of the leading pastors in this area is Daniel Sayiaton and we spent one evening at his home with his wife Jane.

We took the opportunity to see the progress of the church in Kijirijir that we helped to build through the Brad Pederson Memorial Building Fund.

We also visited Pastor Stephen Muntet and his wife Beatrice who have been big supporters of our pastors conferences in the Mara, and great friends for the past four years.

Tentatively we are looking at the first part of December this year for our make-up conference in Olulaimutia. 

Saturday morning, Frank and I took off through the Maasai Mara Park on our way north to Bondo. We thought by transiting the park we could shave a couple hours off our trip, however we ran into the reality of Kenyan roads and ended up adding an hour. But we were rewarded by the grand vista of the annual wildebeest migration, and the migration this season has been one of the biggest in recent years.  

We arrived in Bondo some eight hours later and met Pastor Fred Akello, along with a group of pastors he gathered at his church who are very interested in having us bring the API training to them. We shared a bit about our recent conference in Lodwar and then took some time to tell them about the API School of Ministry.

Pastor Fred has been a great addition to our API Kenya team and we are happy to have him with us.

Please pray for Bondo Baptist Church and the pastor's fellowship in Bondo as they stand firm in the gospel and share the goodness of God with the people of Bondo.

 

 

 

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Travels in Kenya - Kakuma

Monday after the conference we traveled to the Kakuma Refugee camp #4 where Pastor Stephen Lobolia has established a church among the South Sudanese refugees.  Most of the congregation are Toposa and Jie from South Sudan, but there are a few refugees from Burundi who attend.  Last December we partnered with this church, The Ateger Baptist Church, to build their first building.  I was supposed to be back this past spring to join the dedication service but the pandemic prevented that.  So it was with great joy that we finally got to meet this thriving church and attend the postponed dedication service.

There was a lot of celebration and singing to go along with the preaching.

Pastor Lobolia explained that Ateger Baptist was so named because it is a unifying name among several tribes that speak a very similar language.  The Toposa, Jie, Turkana, and Didinga are usually feuding and fighting amongst themselves as separate tribes.  Cattle rustling and thievery, as well as blood feuds are common. But when they use this term, it tends to bring them together.  One of the goals of Pastor Lobolia is to have a church that brings the tribes together instead of keeping them apart. In the camp, as well as throughout Kenya, tribal affiliation is the norm for churches, and Ateger Baptist is working hard to break that stronghold and unify the tribes through the gospel. 

Pastor Lobolia, in addition to pastoring this congregation and new branch of Ateger Baptist he recently started in another location in one of the camps, is a tireless missionary to people in the remote areas outside the camp.  To help him in this work, we've donated a video projector and portable generator in order to enable him to show the Jesus film out in the bush.

 Please pray for Pastor Lobolia, his wife Patricia, his children, and Ateger Baptist Church as they shine the light of the gospel in the Kakuma Refugee camp and beyond.

 

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference 2020

Sunday, 16 August, 2020

We finished the conference on Friday and then took some time for pictures, book handouts, and maize distribution. Due to the shutdown since March, most of these pastors have had a hard time feeding their families.  So we cooked up a plan with Pastor Shadrack, who shipped the maize he had from Eldoret up to Lodwar and we handed out over two tons of maize for the pastors and their families.  

It was a very full week from morning to evening with presentations by seven different teachers throughout the week, including Pastor Tim Bourgeois via pre-recorded video. It was evident from the outset that the Holy Spirit was at work in the attendees through all the messages. And it was especially evident the evening Pastor Tim spoke on the church as Salt and Light in the world.  Just before that we had quite a long and vocal question and answer session over the many issues of culture influencing and corrupting the church.  After Tim spoke on the church as salt and light, everyone was sure that he had been listening to our question and answer session, even though Tim is still in the U.S.  One of the pastors spoke up and said, 'Pastor Tim answered all the questions!' 

One of the great things about this conference is that we had five local pastors doing a lot of the teaching sessions.  One pastor told me that 'It is so good for our people to see that we have capable ministers and teachers among us'. 

I just want to take a moment and give a great big shout out to my team, Pastor Moses Biketi, John Kamau, Pastor Shadrack Murimi and Pastor Reuben Luvanga.  These guys did most of the work and really helped to make this conference a success. 

Saturday morning, Pastor Boniface, Pastor George and myself traveled about 3 hours south to a village called Lokori to visit the church which we had given funds to build their first church. This is St Matthew, an Anglican Church of Kenya. When we arrived we were surrounded by a jubilant crowd of singing women, welcoming us to the church.

After the dedication and the ribbon cutting (actually untying the rubber cord stretched across the door!) we went inside for a short service.

The church was very grateful for this gift of a building and I want to thank all of you, especially Joyce Pederson, for your generous contributions to the Brad Pederson Memorial Building Fund in making this happen for the people of St Matthew. 

 

The service was followed by a big meal of nyama chomo (BBQ goat) and roasted liver, kidney, and other organs. I politely declined the organ meat, but gorged on the nyama chomo!

Tomorrow I head up to the Kakuma Refugee camp where I'll be visiting Pastor Stephen Lobolia and the Ateker Baptist Church.  They received help from the Brad Pederson Memorial Building Fund to build their first church last year and I was prevented last December from visiting because fighting had broken out in the camp. But there are no reports of trouble this year. Thank you all for your faithful prayers during this trip. God has been gracious and kept us all in health and the ministry of the word has been powerful.

 

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference 2020

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Our conference this year is being held at the SHARE International compound just outside of town. It is a beautiful site and an excellent venue for API. SHARE was founded by Sammy and Mary Muri who had a heart and passion to train and equip Christian workers to bring the gospel to unreached people groups.  

Mornings in Lodwar begin with a time in the word and prayer and conversation with the team.  We've got a great team at this conference and I feel blessed to have these men with me.  

Of course we have to stay alert since not all life forms are friendly.

We had our first full day on Tuesday and our registration is officially full. Due to the pandemic protocols, we can only accommodate 100 people at the center. And everyone is wearing masks (sort of), having their temperature taken regularly, and washing their hands repeatedly. 

Wearing the mask can make communication difficult, but thankfully it isn't required for the speakers. Although I did have to remind my interpreter of that fact. All I could hear was 'Mphh'.

Tuesday evening we were joined via pre-recorded video by our missing team member, Pastor Tim Bourgeois who shared on God's Building. His presence was sorely missed by many of the pastors who had anticipated seeing him this year. But they were consoled a bit by seeing him via video. We were greatly privileged to have the Honorable Member of Parliament, Lodepe Nakura join us to share on Fatherhood in the Church.

Everyone I've talked to has told me already how much they are enjoying the conference and how they couldn't believe it was actually taking place.  Apparently this is the first conference in Kenya since the shutdown in March. Everyone agrees it is a God thing!

Thanks again for keeping us in your prayers as we go through this week.  God is at work in the hearts of many people here. 

 

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

2020 has been a crazy year which makes for crazy pictures. This worldwide pandemic has forced a lot of changes in our normal routines and behaviors, not the least of which has been in our sartorial choices. Here in Nairobi you can actually be arrested for not wearing a mask. So if you must mask, at least you can choose your own look.  Frank, our API Logistics Director and I have our own unique fashion sense.

I arrived in Nairobi last Wednesday for the 7th annual Pastor's Leadership Conference in Lodwar, August 10-14.  I came a few days in advance to oversee and set up the countless details for this conference.  I have been looking forward to this time back in Kenya with my brothers and sisters after our last scheduled conference had to be cancelled this past April. By faith I purchased a ticket for August 4th, not knowing if the international flight restrictions would be lifted, but God intervened on our behalf and international travel to Kenya resumed August 1st! I was told that our flight into Jomo Kenyatta airport was the first one to have Americans back in the country after the closure in March. 

On Sunday, I traveled up to Lodwar with our API Associate John Kamau. 

John wears a couple of hats for API. John has been one of the leaders for our medical team for several years, and as part of our Pastoral Team, he is in charge of media production, along with Pastor Reuben Luvanga.  I want to thank Rob Hostager, Executive in charge of Media productions for API, for having the foresight to train these guys in media production because this year was the first year Rob couldn't be with us for the Lodwar conference.  But we are not skipping a beat in terms of media as these two men do a fantastic job in Rob's absence.

Although it was an uneventful trip for the most part, our landing at Lodwar airport was a little exciting.  I thought we were coming in to land a little hot, and my fears were realized as we hurtled down the runway and the pilot wore out the brakes trying to stop. We eventually stopped, but well past the tarmac. At the end of the runway tarmac, there is about 200 yards of gravel, and then a fence. We managed to use most of the gravel but stopped short of the fence. (Huge sigh of relief)

I met the rest of our team that afternoon as they had traveled up from Western Kenya the day before.  Our API Conference Director, Shadrack Mogesi; API Media Coordinator, Reuben Luvanga; and API Associate, Moses Biketi.

Sunday evening we had our annual joint API/Lodwar Pastors Fellowship Executive Teams meeting and dinner. The Lodwar Pastors Fellowship is the organization that first welcomed API to Lodwar and we have become fast friends as well as fellow workers in the church of God. 

This year we invited the Honorable MP for Turkana Central, Lodepe Nakura, to join us for the conference and he graciously accepted. He is the founder of SHARE International, a missions organization to the people of Turkana, where we are holding our conference this year.  He also still considers himself a missionary, as well as politician to his people and will be one of our speakers. 

Thank you for your prayers for this conference.  I'll try to keep you all updated as things kick off this evening with our first session.

 

 

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference August 2019

Wednesday August 21, 2019

It is early morning here and I'm eating breakfast by myself.  Rob, Dan and I were supposed to travel back to Nairobi Monday night.  However the last flight out developed radio communication issues on its way to us from Eldoret and had to turn back.  So we spent the night in Lodwar and Rob and Dan caught the first flight out in the morning.  Unfortunately they arrived in Nairobi too late for their connection back to the U.S.  But the airline put them up in a nice hotel and rebooked their international flight so they fly back later tonight. I stayed up in Lodwar since I would have been flying back up here today to finish our work with the famine relief.

Saturday evening we all hiked up to the statue above the Lodwar High School for exercise and pictures.  One of the first years we were here, I made reference to the statue on the hill, which at that time consisted of just the metal framework in the shape of a man.  I said 'Statue', my interpreter said 'dead guy', and so that is how it has been known ever since.

One of the initiatives we've begun is a drive for used laptops to refurbish and give to our student pastors to help them in their studies with API School of Ministry.  Two of those were given out at this conference to Pastors Luvanga and Mogesi.

If you have an old laptop you'd like to donate, email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call me at 253.678.2279.

Sunday the team went to the shores of Lake Turkana for a bit of R & R at a place called Eliye Springs, where a freshwater spring flows into the salty waters of the lake. 

The water was refreshingly cool, but we couldn't convince Tim and Rob to join us.  Maybe they heard that Lake Turkana has the highest concentration of crocs of any lake in Africa. We didn't see any. Personally I think that story is spread to keep out the riffraff.  I was further assured by our driver who visits regularly that the crocs don't come this far south.  They tend to stay up north where most of the fish are.

We are standing at the spring where it pools before going into the lake.

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference August 2019

Monday August 19, 2019

The internet has been a little sketchy and I haven't been able to post anything but today I've got a window of opportunity so I thought I'd catch you up.  We finished the conference on Friday by handing out the book resources we brought with us. Many thanks to the Gospel Coalition and P & R Publishing for the free resources they provided us to hand out. 

We closed the conference out with the graduation of three API School of Ministry students who earned their Bth degrees.

From left to right - Pastor Shadrack Mwita, Director of Education Kenya, Moses Loburuk, graduate, myself, Daniel Akoikoi, graduate, Pastor George Lokwawi, Commencement speaker, Pastor Dan Mason, and Michael Tioko, graduate.  Many pastors came up to me after we finished this year to express their appreciation for the ministry of API and the conferences we host in Lodwar, which for many constitute the only Bible training they receive.  One of them, Pastor James Louren took me aside and told me, "I want to thank API so much for the teachings this year. They are so deep and so helpful. I have learned more this year than before and understood so much better and they have transformed my preaching. These will cause my people to grow well."  We thank all of you who give financially for this ministry and want you to know that your partnership in this ministry is helping to transform the pastors and churches in Kenya.

Saturday morning we distributed maize, beans, salt and cooking oil to the poor a place in Lodwar called Soweto, named after the large slum area in South Africa. One of the reasons we targeted this area in Lodwar was because these people are always overlooked when NGO's or the government distributes food. The other reason is that one of the pastors who has been coming to our conferences, Joshua Lemuya, has a church right in the middle of this slum, and had been telling us about those who were starving right on the edge of town where there is a lot of food. 

So Saturday morning we loaded up with 2 tons of maize, one ton of beans, 1000 lbs of salt and 180 litres of cooking oil, and drove to the church compound where we found 300+ people waiting patiently for food.  For some this would be the first significant amount of food they have had in while.  One of the ladies from the church helping to hand out the food with us, told us that some of these people hadn't eaten anything for two days.

Pastor Lemuya and his team organized the line, starting with the handicapped, the widows and the elderly.

Again, we want to thank those of you who gave so generously to feed these people. 

 

 

 

 

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Lodwar Pastor's Conference August 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tomorrow is the last day of our conference here in Lodwar and it has been a very rich time for both attendees and presenters.  Around 100 pastors and church leaders have gathered from all over Turkana to attend this year, in spite of the fact that this week marks the most important cultural festival for Turkanans known as Tubong'u Lore.  Loosely translated it means 'the coming home', where Turkanans living in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and other parts of Kenya, come home to Turkana to celebrate their culture. It is a three day festival attracting tens of thousands of visitors with a program that offers a blend of traditions and modernity. Traditional dance, performances of well known Kenyan singers, a trade fair, a market and a huge choma zone (barbecued goat) are included. We took in the opening day of the festival for a short time during one of our breaks to see the sights.

One of the unforseen impacts of holding our conference during this week was the arrival of some prominent political figures in Kenya. One of those was the former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga who commandeered both Rob Hostager's and my rooms at St Teresa's.  Rob and I were booted out of our modestly comfortable bungalows to more humble appointments further down the row. 

This year we have added breakout sessions to our main plenary sessions with two different tracks.  One track is Biblical Counseling taught by Jay McBee, and the other is a pastor's topical track where we are teaching things like Teaching and Preaching the Word, Biblical Theology, Understanding Jesus' Use of Parables, and many other topics intended to equip these pastors.

Mostly behind the scenes, Rob and Pastor Reuben Luvanga are hard at working making all the media stuff work smoothly and they rarely get noticed, until something goes wrong.  But we couldn't do what we do without the dedication and expertise of these guys.

I am always very interested in the impact our conferences have on the local pastors and so I try to find time to talk to most of them about their families, their churches and life in general.  One of the pastors who has been coming since we began holding this conference back in 2013, Pastor Peter Ewoton, comes from Lokitaung, a town in northern Turkana. 

As we talked one day this week, he started by saying, "In Lokitaung, we are really in the fire. Remember the conference titled, 'Standing in the Fire' where we studied 1st and 2nd Peter?  Well, I started teaching the church what I learned in that conference and now we are feeling the fire!  One of the ladies in my church was murdered, another one died from an ectopic pregnacy, and I started wondering if I should stop preaching this.  But it was so good what you taught us, that suffering is in the hands of God for His purposes and He is with us through the fire.  Thank you for coming again and again to teach us!" 

Turkana is a hard place, just like these rocks that litter the landscape. But these pastors are still joyful in the midst of trials and suffering, knowing that their loving Father has them in His gracious grip and will not let them go. Keep these pastors in your prayers as they serve in some very hard places.

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