API USA Blog

News from the field.

Summer Mission 2022

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Friday, September 8, 2022
Last Sunday I flew to Zambia to visit my cousin, Liz Trautman who has built a home for disabled children in Lusaka.  The home is called The Lighthouse at Kasupe and she has done some wonderful work since she came to Zambia. 
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Liz has three boys living here right now, Gift, Matthews, and Ajee.
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These boys came from the slums around Lusaka and they are finding a new lease on life as well as good life and gospel training at the Lighthouse. Ajee is attending a university in Lusaka and Gift and Matthews are doing their schooling at the Lighthouse.
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One unique feature that is fairly common in Zambia, are huge ant hills, although I was assured that the ants have long ago moved out.
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The grounds are beautiful and Liz has planted a lot of trees.
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The eastern half of the proprerty has not yet been developed but Liz is praying about how that should progress.
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The grounds are beautiful and the western end has been turned into a garden of fruit trees and vegetables. Below is one of her papaya trees and a view of the garden.
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She also has banana trees, mango trees, calabash trees and we discovered one macademia nut tree.
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The house itself is spacious and well built, especially since a couple of guys from her home town of Moses Lake came earlier this year to put a new roof on the building.  Apparently the local contractors who built the place initially did not have a good grasp of hydraulics and the original roof leaked like a sieve. Below is a view from the main room that separates the boys section from the girls side.
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I got to spend all day Monday and Tuesday with Liz and I was really blessed by the routine she has established for the boys, beginning with daily devotions in the morning, and prayer time around the meals and evening bible study and prayer. I asked Liz to give me some prayer points that I could share with our supporters for The Lighthouse at Kasupe and here is what she gave us:
1.  Some (older than 16) young people who enjoy children to come (for 3 months) and help with the neighborhood reading and writing class for impoverished children.  
2. Speedy approval of our duties waiver so that we may get our vehicle out of the Zambia Revenue Authority impound lot.  It has been there for a year now. 
3. Land for a medical building and direction on whether this should be a clinic or a level 1 hospital. 
Would you be praying for this important ministry to the disabled and disadvantaged children of Zambia.  If you would like to get in touch with Liz personally, her email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I know she would love to hear from you.
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Summer Mission 2022

Saturday, September 3, 2022
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It's Saturday evening here in Nairobi. I flew back from Lodwar this morning, got a Covid test for my flight tomorrow to Zambia, and reconnected with Rob, whose flight home was delayed by two days. I fly out to Zambia to visit my cousin Liz Trautman, who runs an orphanage in Lusaka called the Lighthouse at Kasupe.  I was also reflecting on our famine relief efforts this year to which so many of you contributed.  What we do is important in providing food for Turkana families in dire straits, and yet it is just a drop in the bucket.  Turkana has been several months without significant rainfall, and I have never seen this place drier than this year. Life is a struggle for so many who often have to walk for kilometers every day to find water just to sustain life. For the most part, all the men have taken their herds toward greener pastures near Uganda to keep them alive, but the old men, women and children have been left behind to fend for themselves.  I'm asking that you continue to keep these people in your prayers, and go to our website and give to our famine relief effort.  https://agapekenya.org/donate/donate-now.html.  As you donate for this effort, we will be sending the money to our API associates in Turkana who are heading up this relief effort.  Thank you for your partnership with us in this.
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As is true in the rest of the world, prices for everything have skyrocketed. Prices for maize flour and beans have doubled, cooking oil has quadrupled, and fuel is 40% higher than when I was here this spring.  
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Nevertheless, we managed to buy bean, maize flour and cooking oil to distribute to 7 villages and to all the pastors and church leaders who attended the Lodwar and Kakuma conferences. We have four villages yet to reach and Pastors Lokuruka and Lokwawi will be delivering food there next week.  So far we have been able to feed about 650 families and we anticipate another 300 or more next week.
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All told, we were able to purchase $9,000 worth of these staples to hand out.
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The strange thing is, there are relief organizations in and around Lodwar, but none of them seem to be giving out food. And the relief food that comes through the U.N. and U.S. aid appears to be hijacked and sold in the markets.
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Thank you for your prayers and faithful partnership with us!
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Summer Mission 2022

Friday, September 2, 2022
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It is Friday evening and I am still in Lodwar after returning from Kakuma.  We held a three-day conference in Kakuma starting Monday this week and finished on Wednesday.  We were hosted again this year by the Solid Rock Fellowship Church led by Pastor Benjamin.  We returned to Lodwar Wednesday night and then Rob and Tim flew back to Nairobi Thursday morning, along with Pastors Shadrack and Reuben who flew to Eldoret.
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We had 102 pastors in attendance for these three days, with 46 of them from Kakuma Refugee Camp.  Since transporation was an issue for them, we provided transport to get them to the conference. 
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Pastor Jared from Life Challenge in Nairobi came with us to Kakuma to do some training on Monday on reaching Muslims with the gospel. We want to give a big thanks to Jared and the Life Challenge team for partnering with us to equip these pastors and church leaders in Turkana.
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Both Tim and I took the sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.  You really can't see it in these pictures, but this church was pretty much a giant oven by 11 am, and by the end of the day, we could literally wring our clothes out!  Tim was instantly recognized even though this was his first time in Kakuma. At our last conference, I showed several of his teaching videos he sent as he couldn't be there, and he was warmly welcomed when he walked in.  He's kind of a rock star in Turkana!
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Pastor Reuben not only translated for me, but ran the media with Rob. Rob came down with the same bug that got Tim on this trip, but he had done such a great job training John and Reuben that we allowed Rob some well-deserved rest this conference. By the second day however, he was feeling will enough to get back in the saddle.
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Shadrack did an incredible job as our Conference Director, here and in Lodwar and we are fortunate to have him on our team.
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All the pastors and church leaders were very appreciative of the foundation teaching they were receiving, and most of them had never had this kind of teaching at all. "API is really helping, not only our pastors, but our churches to grow" one pastor told me between sessions. "This training is so helpful to us to understand the Bible". 
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Both Boniface and George came with us as part of our team to help in the conference.  I can't say enough about what these guys contribute the ministry of API in Turkana. 
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We ended our time by handing out food and cooking oil for each participant, along with two very helpful resources for Bible study for these pastors.
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We hadn't told them we were going to be giving out food, and you should have seen the smiles break out when we brought in the food and oil.
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Most of these pastors, especially from the camps and the bush, are having a very difficult time feeding their families and wanted me to express their deep gratitude to their brothers and sisters in the U.S. who remembered them.
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A very great thank you to all of you who contributed to our Famine Relief this year. 
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Thank you too to those of you who have been faithful to pray for us. Please continue to pray as we are not yet through. Although Rob and Tim were scheduled to fly out tonight, Rob called and his flight has been delayed till Sunday. I believe Tim's flight is still leaving tonight. 
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Summer Mission 2022

Sunday, August 28, 2022
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It is Sunday evening and the team and I are in Kakuma getting ready to begin the conference here.  We  took a group photo on the last day of the Lodwar conference to commemorate our 9th annual Pastors and Church Leaders Conference and to send you all a traditional Kenyan greeting!  
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One of our favorite times in every conference is the Q & A sessions we hold every day where the participants pepper us with questions over the teachings they are receiving. The questions this year were very keen and demonstrated a good grasp of the material we were teaching. 
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We closed our Friday evening session by handing out food to the pastors.  Several of them had come to me to let me know that they had been going through very difficult times and said they were going home to their families who had very little or nothing to eat.  We decided right then that they wouldn't go home empty-handed and started our famine relief that night.
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Pastors George Lokwawi (second from the right behind Boniface in the red API shirt) and Boniface Lokuruka.
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I need to tell you that George and Boniface are the real hands and feet of API in Turkana and I don't know what we'd do without them. They are both tireless servants of God whose hearts are for their people and God's glory.
 RRH3424The following morning we began our famine relief program by visiting five village out in the bush.  The last one we visited was a place called Nakwei Quarry, which means "The place of the foxes".  API is partner with the church there to build their first building. It had been known as Kalongoe, or "Place where people are killed" due to the many people who had been killed by bandits in the area.
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But when the church purchased the plot to build, they decided to change the name because it was no longer a place of danger.
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It is mostly women, small children,and old men who are left in the villages as the drought has forced the able men to move the herds where they can get food.
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When Pastor Emase first started evangelizing in the area, he was threatened by the chief there and told not to come and build a church.  But he persisted and a church was born that met for several years under a tree in a riverbed.
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In partnership with API and help from the Brad Pederson Memorial building fund, they are now constructing their first church building.
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We left them with some food and our blessing and yours. Thank you all who have partnered with us to feed the hungry.
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Summer Mission 2022

Thursday August 25, 2022
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I apologize for starting this blog so late in the trip but I ran into a few obstacles along the way.  Rob and I were scheduled to fly out last Thursday, but Rob ended up going alone.  (He told me he had nightmares about this scenario!) My issue was a failed Covid test, but I was sure I was negative even though the test came back positive.  So I retested on Friday, booked a flight for Saturday and prayed.  Sure enough the second test came back negative and I was cleared to fly.  I got to Seatac around 8:30 for my 1 pm flight and about 12:30 got the notice that the flight was delayed for two hours. That was okay since my connection in Paris had a four hour window. Then when we were just getting ready to board, the flight was delayed another 3 hours.  Which meant my connection in Paris was gone. We finally lifted off about 6:30 and flew to Paris where I had to wrangle another flight.  This one only took me to Amsterdam where I scrambled for a flight to Nairobi. Oh, and the Paris flight was delayed by an hour too. I finally got a flight to Nairobi and got to the gate with minutes to spare. We arrived in Nairobi at 6 in the morning on Monday. 
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Meanwhile, Rob and Tim and the API team had flown to Lodwar on Sunday and set up for the conference which began Monday evening. I was able to fly up to Lodwar Tuesday morning just in time for my first session scheduled that day. I thank God for the great team He has put together because those guys didn't miss a beat without me, and the conference was in full swing when I arrived.
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Pastor Tim had taken the first two session in the morning and I took the third.
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However, when I arrived, Tim informed me that he was not feeling well and didn't think he could do the evening session. So we ended up switching the teaching schedule a bit and soldiered on, praying that he would be well on Wednesday.  He got worse Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning I was thinking medical evacuation when I saw him.  Between Rob and I, we managed to come up with some medicines he started taking, and I took all the teaching session that day. I also called my sister the nurse and she recommended a treatment protocol which we administered. We also told everyone to pray and by Wednesday afternoon he texted me and said he felt a little better. 
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Thursday morning Tim was up and around and ready to go! He gave two session this morning and he will be speaking this evening and looks like he's over the worst. We have no idea why the Lord has allowed so many obstacles to arise to hinder us, but we're pretty sure the enemy is working overtime to hinder the Word to these pastors. But God is proving that all the roadblocks thrown up to oppose His ministry are no match for His power.  We are thankful we serve such a big God!
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This morning I picked up Jared Odinga of Life Challenge Africa from the Lodwar airport.  Life Challenge is partnering with us to equip and train these pasters in Turkana to reach the growing Muslim community in this county. 
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Thank you for your support and prayers and keep on praying that the schemes of the devil would come to nothing. We have about 150 pastors attending the conference and they are rejoicing that they are getting the opportunity to receive this training.
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Spring Mission 2022

Thursday, May 12, 2022
Jay and I arrived back in Nairobi yesterday from Lodwar, going from 100 degrees to a more comfortable 75! I asked Jay to give you all an account of what has been happening with our Biblical Counseling program so this is his report.

The API team obtained two important milestones Saturday.
The first was to meet with the pastoral leadership council in Kakuma and set up our first pastor’s training conference inside the borders of the Kakuma refugee camp this coming August. While many pastors in the camp barely have enough money to eat, they persevere in giving the hope of the gospel to refugees from wars and uprisings in the Congo, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan and Samalia. Now the API team will be coming to them. For those that would like to contribute to this conference in Kakuma, please click here.





The second milestone was launching a second Biblical Counseling team in northern Kenya for the express purpose of doing on-site pastoral training for the next year in the Kakuma camp. This team will be led by Boniface Lokuruka (1st picture below) and George Lokwawi (second picture below), API associates in Lodwar. These men have been used by the Lord to plant tens of churches throughout the Turkana area and Boniface currently is the bishop over four churches in Kakuma camp and town. Once we have sufficient funds ( click the link here to contribute ), Boniface and George will start monthly trainings to help pastors disciple and counsel not only people in the church, but also as a ministry to the larger Kakuma camp. The training will include crisis counseling areas like how to counsel those in distress and depression, but also peacemaking ( a key issue since all these refugees were displaced by faction fighting ) troubled marriages, anxiety, or those in fear for their future. After two years of counseling training and meetings with Kakuma camp officials and the local churches in Kakuma, API’s biblical counseling team is now crossing over into in-camp pastoral counselor training.



Here is an update on API’s first biblical counseling team led by Reuben Luvanga and Moses Biketi. They started in-person training six months ago in Matete and Majengo. They have 20 pastors in each of those areas that have completed the first of the three training modules. This training has caught the attention of some pastors outside of Matete. Moses has been invited to start training approximately 80 pastors in Checkalini. The training will include biblical theology along with biblical counseling as we are currently doing in Matete. The local team is designed to augment the conference training with on-going in person training and this is proving to be exceptionally popular with the pastors who want to increase their skills as a pastor. 

       Reuben                                                           Moses
This team was also our first team to introduce biblical counseling and biblical theology training for pastors in refugee camps when they taught pastors in the Kyaka II and Nakivale camps in Uganda in November 2021. The pastors have been eagerly awaiting an API team conference inside the refugee camps with almost daily calls to our team. We have been working to this end and please join us in praying that we can finally accomplish this goal.

As the world went on lock down and resorted to Zoom calls to stay connected, API capitalized on this resource to increase training between conferences. Mike and Jay each introduced weekly on-line Zoom teaching in 2021. On May 24, we will be expanding our reach into Nairobi with the launch of biblical counseling training by Zoom in Karura Community Chapel, an extremely large church with a focus on being a center for pastoral training for their church and also for the local pastors in Nairobi. They just completed a four-story building for the Sunday School and are next looking to create a counseling center for their church and the community and we will be training a core group of their pastors and leaders over the next year to kick-start this effort. This church is just a couple kilometers from our hotel in Nairobi, so we now have the possibility of adding new conference training every time our team comes into Kenya with no additional logistics or cost. This work was initiated by John Kamau, API’s Media Director, who is a member of this church and set up meetings for us last year to explore this new partnership.

We want to thank all of you who have prayed and supported us as we have ministered in Kenya this spring.  God is opening more and more doors to train and equip more and more pastors and church leaders, and we are running to keep up!  Jay and I head back to the States tomorrow evening; Jay to California and me to Washington.  We than God for our outstanding Kenyan team this year as we head back!  These guys really worked hard and made things happen.
 
Left to right back row: Jay McBee, Edward Amase, Frank Maina, me, Moses Biketi.
Middle row: John Kamau, Shadrack Murimi, Reuben Luvanga
Front: Benson Ntuntai

 

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Spring Mission 2022

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Jay, Frank and I arrived in Lodwar Friday morning and then set out Saturday to visit a couple of the bush churches.  The first one we visited required a twenty minute boatride on Lake Turkana to a place called Longech.  This is a new church plant by Pastor George Lokwawi.  Everytime I'm with George he is taking me to another new church he has planted. He has a real gift for evangelism and church planting, as does Boniface Lokuruku pictured here and below. While we were waiting for our boat to arrive, Boniface started sharing the gospel with the inevitable crowd that gathers whenever muzungus are around. 

He used a simple sheet of paper, folding and tearing it as he went to tell the gospel story and ended up at the cross. It was an amazing display of readiness and eagerness to share the good news at any opportunity.

The church is literally on the beach at Longech, with palm trees and white sand. I think I could belong to this church!

We spent some time hearing from the pastor and leaders of Longech, and then shared with them our mission to train and equip pastors and church leaders. One of the tools we use is a mini-SD card that they can insert in their phones to access the audio bible, teaching series, gospel stories and study helps in their own language. We've tried other devices in the past and have found they do not stand up to the rigors of life in Turkana, but almost everyone in leadership has a phone and they take very good care of them since they have invested their own money.  The audio format is also best because most of the people in the bush cannot read or write, but they know how to listen! 

I think Jay was thinking this place was pretty cool too.

After we got back to the mainland, George admitted he was a bit intimidated by the little boat and the big water, even though I assured him that since Lake Turkana is a salt lake, he would float quite well.

Leaving Longech, we headed north to a village I had been to a few times called Nakapokan.  I believe this was the second or third church we had help build in Turkana six years ago. In addition to housing the church, this structure also served as the first primary school in the village until the government got its act together and built a primary school a couple years ago.

This was also a memorial journey of sorts as the original pastor, a friend of mine, had died over a year ago - Pastor Thomas.

We went to Nakapokan to see how the church was doing and give them greetings and exortation, and to see the widow of Pastor Thomas, and the house some generous API donors had provided for her.

She asked us to pray and dedicate the place to the Lord.  This home will serve her as a shop to sell things from one half, while living in the other.  Widows have a very hard time in this area when the husband dies as they usually have no other source of income. She was very grateful to her unknow benefactors and thanked us profusely on their behalf.

Again, thank you all who are praying for, and supporting this mission. More and more people are being reached with the gospel as we train and equip those who are going out. Pastor George told me that ever since we have been holding our annual conference in Lodwar, he requires that the pastors and church leaders of all the new churches he plants must attend the conference for training. We thank God that we are able to be a small part of extending the kingdom of God in this land.
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Spring Mission 2022

Saturday, May 7, 2022

It's Saturday evening and Jay and I are in Lodwar, but I promised to share more about our time in Tanzania so I thought I'd share a few stories we ran across. And the first of those is the story of Olomo, a former powerful sorcerer, and one of the first Tanzanian pastors Jay and I met when we arrived at the church. (Pastor Olomo is in the middle here).

Olomo was feared and respected not only in Tanzania, but also across the border in Kenya. People would preface their statements or claims of fact by saying, "Olomo said..." His word was considered absolute truth because he was such a powerful witchdoctor. But in 2008, Olomo came to Christ after a lifetime in the occult and now pastors a church. Upon meeting him, you would never suspect his history of involvement with sorcery, and his smile lights up the room!

Another remarkable story was the conversion of Johannan, pictured above with Jay and I and his daughter Jackie.  Jackie, who was the head cook for our conference, told Frank, our Logistics Director about how her father came to Christ. Jackie was converted at an early age as her parents sent their kids to Sunday School but never attended themselves.  Her dad is a leading man in the area and before he came to Christ would describe himself as a very traditional Maasai man, steeped in the traditions and rituals of his culture.  Jackie said their homelife was not a very happy one, since in Maasai tradition, the man looks after himself and his herds before he looks after his family. Very often, due to his position in the community, he would be away with the other men, leaving his family to shift for themselves. When Jackie was in secondary school, she hit on a plan to lure her father to church.  She told him she needed him to walk with her to the church to keep her safe from the boys who might bother her. He agreed but refused to go inside.  But that was fine with Jackie. After a time, she asked him, as a favor to her, if he would come inside the church.  He agreed but said that he wouldn't listen. But that was fine with Jackie.  However, after a period of coming with her into the church and not listening, Jackie found that he was more often gone and didn't know where he was.  He was not meeting with the other Maasai elders or community leaders, so she followed him one evening and found that he ended up in the church, where she saw him kneeling and praying. But Jackie never said anything to him until one day his friends came calling and Johannan asked Jackie to tell them he was not in. This happened several times until Jackie begged him to tell them the truth of his conversion.  His friends scoffed at this and told him soon he would be back to his old ways. In the meantime, his wife had seen a significant change in his behavior and one day she called a family meeting. There she confronted her husband saying that things had changed around the house and she wanted whoever prayed for him to pray for her too. She received Christ that day and since then, Jackie said that things have never been the same around their house as the whole family came to Christ. We were priviledged to give him his first bible.

As we were waiting for our first session to begin on Monday, we had some time to engage the locals who were curious about these visitors.

One of those was a young herdsman named Ntumama.  As he talked at first with John Kamau, our Media Director for this trip, it became evident that he wanted to know about Jesus.  So John asked Stephen to speak with Ntumama in his own language, so Stephen (extreme left in the picture) shared the gospel with him.

At the conclusion, Ntumama prayed to receive Christ on the spot; and the next day we gave him a bible outside his home.

We ran into a bit of trouble with the Tanzanian Immigration authorities along the way.  We had submitted all the necessary paperwork ahead of time, however the people to whom we entrusted the documents failed to follow through, so we were visited at our hotel by two officers from Immigration who insisted we come with them to their office (two hours away) to get our passports stamped, or give them $250.  It turns out these guys were not sent by their supervisor who had earlier given us permission to come to Tanzania, but were working an angle to get some money.  We did give them $100 with a promise to contact their supervisor and square things up before we left on Wednesday, and they left (after three hours of negotiations).  But on Wednesday, we were surprised by the supervisor herself coming to the church to stamp our visas. We were surprised because we expected to have to travel to her office to get our documents verified. Top officials never come to you, you always go to them in Tanzania. It turned out that she was a Christian, and the daughter of a pastor herself and wanted to see in person what we were doing. She was extremely pleased by what she heard and saw and invited us to come again anytime. In fact, she invited herself to our upcoming conference in Lodwar in August!

Thank you all who have been praying for our time here! Everything came together at just the right time for us in every respect.  We had been concerned about the several river crossings we had to make to travel to Tanzania as it had been raining heavily prior to our conference in Megwara, and at the beginning.  But as the week went on, the rains stopped and the rivers went down and all the crossings were made without incident. I'm convinced your prayers were effective! The picture below is one of those crossings.

I thought I'd leave you with a few random shots of our time in Maiorwa. Here is Jay as he contemplates...something.

Worshipping in Maiorwa

Registration time

Breakfast with the team

Lunch break

 

This little guy is holding his sucker and a little gift from Judah Young, of Summit Christian Fellowship.  Judah came up to me before I left and wanted to know if the kids in Africa would like some of the toy vegetable people he made. I told him they would love those and he sent several with me.  In fact they treasured these little vegie people and called them 'Mtoto' or 'children' and carried them everywhere.
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Spring Mission 2022


Thursday, May 5, 2022
Well, it's been a while since we've updated you on what has gone on so this might be a rather long post. The above picture is of the church in Mairowa, Tanzania where we have been for the last four days.  But let me catch you up.

Last Sunday, after the conference in Megwara, we joined the church in Nalepo which was funded through the Brad Pederson Building Fund last year. 

The pastor of the church, Musa, was incredibly happy to receive the API team for a joyous Sunday celebration of the construction of this church.  After lunch, our team left to travel to Mairowa in Tanzania to hold a three-day conference.  We are so thankful to you all that have been praying for our travels because when we arrived in Megwara, it had been raining heavily and the rivers were up. However as the week progressed, we had less rain and more sunshine so our trip to Tanzania was for the most part unhindered.  Below is a picture of one of the several rivers we had to cross to make it into Tanzania and by God's mercy and your prayers, the rivers we had to cross were passable!

We arrived safely in Tanzania Sunday evening in time to begin our conference Monday morning.

We continued the theme of Salt and Light in the World: The Role of the Church in the World, as Jay McBee continued his theme in Biblical Counseling. 



During the conference, we handed out suckers to the children who came with their parents.  My friend Bill Nyms began the tradition of handing out candy to the kids a few years ago, and ever since we've continued it.

However, news like this gets around quickly, and soon we found ourselves with nearly 400 children who heard that the muzungus were handing out sweets. Capitalizing on the opportunity, we decided to hold a kind of Sunday School for these kids and Pastor Reuben took the lead to teach them.

Besides the teaching we offer at the conference, and the book resources we give out, we also have developed another teaching resource on a mini-SD card that can be inserted in the phones almost everyone has. This SD card has the Bible in the local language, in this case, Maasai, along with stories of the Bible from Genesis to Acts, discipleship programs, the Jesus movie in their language, and teaching programs that take the listener from Genesis to Revelation. Below I am showing some of the pastors how these programs work.

There is a lot more I need to share with you about our trip, but for now I'll have to sign off as we leave early tomorrow morning for Lodwar and five days of ministry there and in the refugee camps at Kakuma.  Thank you for your continued prayers for our mission and travels! God's word is making an impact in Africa.

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Spring Mission 2022

Saturday, April 30, 2022

We finished the Megwara conference today, Salt and Light in the World: the Role of the Church in the World, and we are back at Manyatta Camp for the evening. We had about 130 attendees for this conference and all of them I spoke to expressed their deep appreciation for the teaching they were receiving. We were blessed to have an extraordinary team this year as we were joined by Jay McBee, Pastors, Shadrack, Reuben, Benson, Edward, and Moses, and our logistics team of John Kamau and Frank Maina. 

Shadrack, Moses, and Reuben all shared the teaching load along with Jay and I and I have been so blessed to see how these guys have grown into the teaching role in API.

I've heard it said that a conference is only as good as its food, and based on that, this one was fantastic.  These ladies really outdid themselve as they provided meals for all the people who came. 

We want to thank Summit Christian Fellowship, along with Ekklesia Afrika for providing great teaching resources for the pastors as they lead their churches.



We were also blessed by our hosts after the final session with gifts of Maasai finery.

It has been a blessing to minister alongside these men as we work to equip the pastors and church leaders in this area.  Our host pastor, Daniel Sayiaton told all of us at the conclusion of our time that we would never know just how much tranformation has happened in the churches of this area because of the ministry of API for the past five years. We just thank God that He has allowed us to play this small part in the lives of the believers in Megwara and Olulaimutia.

Tomorrow some of our team will leave for home, and the rest, Jay, Frank, John, Shadrack, Reuben and myself will attend the services at Nalepo African Gospel Church, a few kilometers from where we are staying. Following that, we will head down to Tanzania to hold a 3-day conference with the Maasai churches there. Please pray for our journey and time with the churches there.




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Spring Mission 2022

Thursday, April 28, 2022

It is Thursday afternoon and turning out to be a rather nice day in Megwara after a night of very heavy rain.  We traveled to Olulaimutia, a village about 8 km from Megwara where we are staying.  We left Nairobi on Monday after meeting with the Life Challenge staff.  I found this organization online as I was searching for local partners to help equip our pastors and leaders to reach their Muslim neighbors. When I first started coming to Kenya in 2007, you would rarely hear the Muslim call to prayer.  Now it seems you hear it in every village and town, and for the most part, Christian churches do not have any strategy to reach their Muslim neighbors. We hope that in partnering with a group that has been teaching and equipping Christians for years to engage Muslims, we can help our pastors and church leader to do the same.  After a full and productive meeting, Life Challenge agreed to send a team to our conference this August in Lodwar to begin.

Tuesday we took a half-day to go into the Maasai Mara park to see the wonders of God's creation.









Of course we took our lunch at Sarova Mara in the park, and then traveled back to Olulaimutia in time to greet the arrival of the rest of our team.



Wednesday morning we began our conference in Megwara, and as it usually happens, we had a lot of late arrivals.  Time is relative in Kenya.  

John and Reuben handle all the media.

Pastor Moses oversees the registration.

We have a great cooking crew this year and everyone says it's the best ever.



And the best thing about our meals is the meat is always fresh!

Thank you for your support and prayers. I'll post more later.
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Spring Mission 2022

Friday, April 22, 2022

It's Saturday evening in Nairobi and Jay and I are relaxing, enjoying the view.  We arrived late Thursday evening after meeting each other in Paris since I was coming from Seattle and Jay from Los Angeles.  Friday and Saturday were spent buying all the necessary things for our two conferences coming up and arranging meetings and renewing contacts. 

One of our meetings was with the leadership of Karura Community Chapel here in Nairobi who has expressed great interest in connecting with us for training in Biblical Counseling.  Jay and I met with Senior Pastor Ngari Kariithi and Tendayi Kuvyeha the Director of Outreach and Multiplication, to share about our ministry.  Jay has been in ongoing dialog with Tendayi for the past few months and this was our first opportunity to get together.  Karura Community Chapel is a very large church actively engaged in their community to proclaim the gospel and make disciples and we are looking forward to partnering with them in Biblical Counseling training. 

Our associate, John Kamau (second from left) is a member at this church and was the catalyst for this connnection. John has been taking the training himself and saw the value and importance of this kind of training for his church. 

Sunday, Jay and will be attending the church and then Monday we are heading to Megwara to begin the first conference. Thank you for your continuing prayers for our time here. We'll have more for you later!
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Winter Mission 2021

Friday, December 10, 2021

Saturday morning, the 4th of December, as Moses and Reuben were heading to Uganda, I was heading to Turkana, flying from Eldoret to Lodwar. 

That evening, I met with the Lodwar Pastor's Fellowship to plan our 9th annual conference next August.  Unfortunately I neglected to take any photos for you. 

Charcoal for sale along the road.  Most households in Turkana, and in the rest of Kenya, use charcoal for cooking.

Monday morning Pastor Boniface and Pastor George and I traveled to Kakuma to meet with the pastor's fellowship to plan our 2nd pastor's conference in that city.  As you may know, Kakuma is the site of the largest refugee camp in Africa, with refugees from all over Africa.  This past August we held our first pastor's conference in Kakuma and bussed in pastors from the refugee camp to attend. Holding the conference in the camp presented very difficult administrative and logistical problems, so the pastors fellowship in Kakuma, graciously provided a venue to hold the conference.  Over lunch we discussed the next conference to be held in August 2022. 

When I am in Kenya, wherever I go, I am always confronted by extreme poverty and hunger.  And while I am pondering what more I can do about it, these Kenyan pastors already have a game plan to help.  After our lunch, one of the pastors in Kakuma, Pastor John (pictured below), went around the table, gathering up what was left on each plate.  I asked him what he was going to do with it, and he said there were street kids just outside the cafe where we were eating that probably had not eaten that day and so he had all that food packed up for them. It turns out that Pastor John has a ministry to these kids who roam the mean streets of Kakuma, doing whatever it takes to survive.  He has built a home for street boys and girls on his property, and as he is able, he rescues them from the streets, feeding and housing and educating them. And this is a pattern all across Kenya where many pastors and churches are engaged in bringing the gospel to the lost and the least.  The Kenyan government has largely abandoned these kids to the streets, but the church in Kenya, as the church does all over the world, has stepped up to the plate to bring hope and restoration for the overlooked and despised in society.



On our way home, we stopped by the site of a near tragedy last August.  As George and Boniface were traveling home from our conference in Kakuma, their driver was distracted momentarily, trying to answer his phone.  The car careened off the road as they were negotiating a curve in the road and ended up hanging over this dry river bed, offside wheels dangling over about a 15 foot drop.  


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Wednesday morning, I flew back to Nairobi where Frank picked me up.  Just want to give a shout out to our logisitics director, Frank Maina, who has been such a help and encouragement on all our trips. Frank arranges all the accommodations and transportation for these trips and we couldn't do what we do without him. 
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Winter Mission 2021

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Right after our conference in Matete, I left for Turkana and Pastor Reuben and Pastor Moses left for Uganda to hold conferences in two refugee camps there, Nakivale and Kyaki II.  In those camps are refugees from all over Africa, some who have been there for years having fled political and tribal violence in their own countries. These pastors were so grateful that people would come to encourage and equip them.  Pastor Reuben told me that API was the first organization ever to offer any kind of pastoral training to them.  Below you can read Reuben and Moses' report from the first conference they held this week. 

Greetings Pastor Mike, It has taken long since we submit the first report of our trip in the refugee camp. We safely arrived on Sunday evening after some loss. (Reuben’s computer and phone were stolen on the way) We sure were strengthened by you brothers with your prayers due to the discouragement we were in.

On Monday Morning we met Pastors from Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Central Africa Republic and Tanzania. Most of these pastors are Refugees who are pastoring refugees. They were from different denominations. On this first day we had a total of 42 pastors who lacked formal theological training. By their stories they had lost a lot and experienced many trials.

We continued with our Theme, The Church as the Light of the World. Pastor Moses taught on the Church as the Salt of the Earth and the Man of God and Money, while I taught on Peace Making, and Grace when things are hard and Anger Mismanagement.

We finished the conference at 5pm but the brothers were asking us to continue till 7:00pm. They were full of hunger and thirst for the word of God. We went back to the hotel to prepare for the next day.

After our morning devotion in the hotel we took our taxi to the Conference Hall. It was a great day and the pastors were all seated at 9:00am. I taught the Roles of husband and wife and Serving the Lord with Humility while Pastor Moses taught on Following Jesus and the Holiness of God.  During midday like previous day we had lunch and later on questions and answer time. The brothers were so blessed with the teachings, books and lunch.



Later on I will attach some clips of their appreciation and prayers. We later distributed the books, took a group photo and left for Mbarara for Wednesday Conference that starts at 9:00am. 

Please keep Reuben and Moses and the pastors they are equipping in your prayers. Pastor Moses sent me a note after they left - "The situation here needs God's grace.  These people are hungry for the Word of God.  When you leave, people shed tears just because you are leaving.  They wanted us to remain with them for some time but we excused ourselves because of the task ahead of us."

 

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Winter Mission 2021

Saturday, December 4, 2021

I am sorry it took so long to post this blog. The internet would not cooperate and the power was consistently sketchy. The conference in Matete is over and I am presently in Lodwar to meet with the Lodwar Pastors Fellowship and then I travel to Kakuma to meet with the pastors there and in the refugee camp.

Our conference in Matete was the fourth annual conference there and we had over 70 pastors and church leaders attending. Many were returning attenders but we had many pastors who had heard of this but never attended. One of those who had been to previous conferences pulled me aside one day to let me know of his appreciation of the training he and the others were receiving. “I want you to know”, he said, “API is really making a difference in the churches in this county. Previously our preaching was out of ignorance because we really didn’t know the Bible. But now we are teaching the real truth of the word in our churches and our churches are being transformed.” I have to say, it was worth it to travel 10,000 miles to hear that!



During all of our breaks between sessions, you could hear the pastors rehashing and mulling over what they had just heard.





We had four full days of teaching by the API team and I have to say I am very proud of these guys! Four of our API associates joined me in teaching this week. The training they have received over the years is paying great dividends in their own churches and the churches in their counties, and in trainings like this. And more and more pastors and churches are being impacted by the truth of the gospel. 

Conference Director Pastor Shadrack Mogesi

Pastor Fred Akello 

Pastor Moses Biketi

Pastor Reuben Luvanga

We also had lively and very relevant question and answer sessions each day over the material that was presented. One of the goals of these sessions is to of course clarify what was said, but they also gave us great insights into the issues that the churches in Kenya are facing.  I also had a lot of opportunities to have more in depth conversations with several pastors, many of whom I had not met before.

We finished the week with our pastor's forum where we had an opportunity to hear from the pastors what challenges they were facing in the ministry so that we could pray for them and so that we might better serve them where they are.

I want to thank Gary and Lesley Scherer as well for the eyeglasses they left behind to be handed out. Our logistics director, Frank Maina, found those pastors who were having problems reading and provided them with reading glasses. One of the pastors (middle below)  actually cried when he put them on and Frank asked him why he was crying. He said, “It is because now I can actually read the word of God! I was really struggling to read and now I read perfectly.”

I want to give a shout out to the cooks who made the meals for those who attended! Everyone agreed that the food was excellent and there was always plenty to eat. Of course, any conference is graded at least in part on the food provided, so in that case, we were really successful!



I also want to give a shout out to Em Westmark and her sister, Elaine Haroldson, for their labor of love in making baby blankets for the Agape Care Net Center.  There were two new moms in Matete that were blessed by their generosity!

Thank you for your prayers for this ministry and the pastors in Kenya. 


 

 

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Summer 2021 Mission

Saturday, August 28, 2021
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The past four days we spent delivering maize flour, salt, and cooking oil to several villages outside of Lodwar. Thanks to the generosity of many of you, we were able to provide food to over 1,700 families in Turkana!  Here are a few pictures from the last four days.
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The volleyballs donated by Summit Christian were a bit hit!
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Every place we visited, Pastor Boniface would teach the people some English.

Thanks again for helping us help the people of Turkana!
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Summer 2021 Mission

Friday August 27, 2021
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Last Sunday, Rob and I traveled 110 km northwest to Kakuma to hold a two day conference with the Kakuma pastors and pastors from the UN refugee camp there. We were joined by Pastors Boniface Lokuruka, George Lokwawi, and Shadrack Mogesi.  78 pastors attended the conference, about 35 from the camp and the rest from Kakuma Town.
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We were hosted by Pastor Benjamin of the Solid Rock Church in Kakuma and the Kakuma Pastors Fellowship.
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We had two wonderful days together in God's word, and as the Chairman of the Kakuma Pastors Fellowship was wrapping things up on Tuesday, he said, "We have known API has been in Lodwar for many years but we have never tasted the teachings.  Now we have have tasted and they are so good! We want to have more. It would be good if you could stay the whole week here and teach."  While we couldn't do that, we are planning next year to have a more extended conference in Kakuma.
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As is our custom, we ended the conference with a book handout, and also a food handout.  The pastors were not only nourished spiritually, but we were able to feed the 78 families represented by these pastors.
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UPDATE ON LODWAR CONFERENCE:
I wanted to share with you what our Conference Director shared with me after the Lodwar Conference, of which I was completely unaware. We had capped the conference at 150 attendees due to space and Covid restrictions.  However, somehow more than 170 got registered, and we finally discovered there were more than 200 in attendence.  Early on Tuesday, our boarding facitlities were maxed out by out of town guests.  But on Wednesday several showed up from far places needing a place to sleep. Informed that the boarding facility was full, these pastors begged to sleep on the conference hall floor, (concrete) without mattresses or blankets. Warned that scorpions were about, they dismissed the danger, asking only that they could be in the compound the next morning to hear the Word of God as it was taught. "We heard the word is so good here and we want to hear it", they said.  In fact several had to sit outside the hall for the rest of the week as it couldn't accomodate all the delegates. I thank God for the hunger and desire of these pastors to hear God's word.
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Summer 2021 Mission

Sunday August 22, 2021

We closed out our conference by giving out several great resources to the pastors, and by celebrating the Lord's Table together Friday evening. There were so many testimonies to the valuable truth shared this week.  One pastor commented that if it were not for these conferences, he would have no opportunity to learn the truth of God's word in such depth. We want to thank all of you who made this conference possible, and these pastors want to pass on their thanks to you.

Saturday morning we traveled out to Kapokor, to the newly constructed church there for a dedication service, complete with ribbon cutting, and food distribution. Below is Pastor James Loren who oversees this church.

The ribbon was actually a thick band of rubber that didn't cut very easily, but we got the job done







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Our driver, Paul Herbert, handing candy to the kids
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One of the leading ladies of the church expressing the church's gratitude for this new building.
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Pastors Boniface Lokuruka and George Lokwawi oversee the building of the churches for us in Turkana. I thank the Lord for these men who partner with us in the gospel.
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Summit Christian provided a number of soccer balls to hand out at these villages. This is the youth leader of Kapokor who was immensely pleased to receive a soccer ball for his youth.
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Headed back home with the food
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Many of these people walk several kilometers to attend Kapokor church
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Thanks to all of you who make our famine relief initiative so successful.  Next week we will be at several more villages to distribute food.  But first we have a two day conference in Kakuma with the Kakuma pastors and pastors from the refugee camp there.  Please be praying for this.
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Summer 2021 Mission

Thursday August 19, 2021

It is Thursday afternoon and we're over the halfway point in the conference.  We had about 170 pastors and church leaders registered by Tuesday and the place is full.  In fact we have people sitting all around the outside of the hall due to the limited space inside.

We've had a wonderful time of teaching and fellowship, and very lively Q&A sessions with these pastors. I can't thank my API team enough for their dedication and hard work as they oversee all the logistics of this conference.  In addition to being one of our speakers, Pastor Moses Biketi heads up our registration team.

Pastor Shadrack is our Conference Director and keeps everything running smoothly, while John works the media table along with Rob and Pastor Reuben.

Pastor Benson, traveled all the way from Kilgoris to be part of the team this year and works to cover all the gaps we encounter in serving these pastors.

And of course Rob makes the whole thing run. 

We've got a couple local pastors teaching as well.  Pastor Boniface Lokuruka taught on The Man of God and Culture, and Pastor Joshua Lemuya will be teaching tonight on the Man of God and Prayer.

This year we've partnered with Ekklesia Afrika to provide another arena of pastoral training for our pastors and church leaders through their SOMA program. SOMA is a cohort based method of study that has small groups of pastors coming together locally throughout the year to read and learn together.  They walk through a book a month, reading, discussing, asking and answering questions, wrestling with theology and doctrine and hard texts of the Bible.  The complete course covers four years and by the end these pastors will have throrough understanding of the Bible and its story.

Mike Muthema of Ekklesia Afrika, along with Pastor Charles Macharia joined us for two days in Lodwar and just flew out this morning. We are looking forward to a long partnership with Ekklesia Afrika as we share the same passion for equipping local pastors in order to build healthy, gospel-centered churches that reproduce all over Kenya.

Please pray for us and for those who are attending this conference that God will seal the truth of His word in their hearts and they will be faithful to share that truth with their congregations.
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Summer 2021 Mission

Monday, August 17, 2021
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Rob and I arrived in Nairobi last Thursday, tired but excited to be back in country.  We waltzed through immigration, only to be stuck in baggage for an hour waiting for our luggage. So we took pictures.
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The next two days were full with meetings, buying things for our trip to Lodwar, and taking more pictures.
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I had the pleasure of presenting one of our API School of Ministry graduates with his Bachelor of Theology degree while in Nairobi.  Amoss Mahlangah from Lamu Island traveled to Nairobi to receive his diploma and share with us the progress of his ministry among the Muslims in Lamu.  Lamu is nearly 100% Muslim and Amoss has been working there for several years, making slow inroads among the population. We thank God for tireless evangelists like Amoss whose passion is to see his neighbors come to Christ.
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Sunday morning Rob, John and I took the early flight to Lodwar. John and Rob slept soundly most of the two hour flight.

We arrived in Lodwar around 9 am to some welcome warmth after a chilly stay in Nairobi.

Sunday, and most of Monday was spent getting everything ready for the conference that began Monday at 4 pm with registration, dinner and then the first session, where we were treated to 140 pastors singing together.

I'll be posting more tomorrow.
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