API USA Blog

News from the field.

Winter Mission 2023

Saturday, December 2, 2023
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It has taken a week to get to a place with reliable internet to even begin this blog so I'll be giving you all a recap of the week we/ve just had.  I got into Nairobi late last Sunday evening and the next morning, Frank and John and I drove to the place we booked to stay for the week. Our conference was in Matete at Pastor Moses Biketi's place but we were staying about 15 minutes away in a town called Webuye. We chose not to stay in our usual hotel called Downhill Springs because, well, it has gone downhill over the years and we needed a new place. So we booked a place called Falls View. It was actually a nice place with good food, service and comfortable rooms. But as with nearly everything in Kenya, there were challenges. I was confronted by the first when I walked into the bathroom.
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I'm not sure what the thinking was here, but it required some athleticism to use the toilet. Maybe that was the point. But we've learned to roll with the punches as it were and I made some creative adjustments!  I also reminded myself I wasn't here for comfortable amenities.
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The week of teaching through the first five chapters of Romans was planned for 100 pastors and church leaders, but we ended up with about 165.  I suppose we shoudn't be surprised. This was the fifth year of this winter conference and the word has gotten out about the value of this trainng. Additionally, Pastors Moses and Reuben have been holding trainings throughout this year in villages close by and all those they've been teaching are coming and bringing their pastor friends as well.
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We were most impressed by the way all the attendees seemed to be focused during the teaching time, and absorbing the material. There was little to no getting up and moving around during the hour and a half sessions, with all those attending concentrating deeply on listening and taking notes.
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During the break times, you could see dozens of small groups gathered together talking, not about the weather, but the most recent session. 
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I broke in on some of these groups just to find out what they were discussing and found they were really engaged in the Romans material. Everyone I spoke to told me how blessed they felt to be under this teaching. One pastor told us that he had been preaching through Romans for the past month, but now realized how much richer and deeper Romans was than he had thought.  His eyes had been opened, he said, and thanked us repeatedly and said he could hardly wait till next year when we would be going through chapters 6 - 11 of Romans.
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Of course we have such a great teaching team with Reuben Luvanga, Moses Biketi, Shadrack Murimi, and adding this year, Pastor Boniface Lokuruka from Lodwar.
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Our Q&A sessions at the end of every teaching day provided us the opportunity to add more depth to the day's teachings and those times are always enjoyable as well as enlightening.
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Thanks to the generosity of Crossway and Ekklesia Afrika, we were able to give these pastors some bibles and other great resources.
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As happens almost everywhere, I get some children who are curious about the mazungu and are facsinated by my white skin.
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We left for Eldoret today, to spend the night and take off for Churo tomorrow morning.  But before we left Webuye, we stopped by Nzoina Falls that we could see from our hoter for some close up pictures.
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We were truly blessed to spend a week with these brothers and sisters, and are looking forward to being back with them next year as we continue in Romans.  Thank you all for your prayers and support!
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Summer Mission 2023

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Monday, September 4, 2023
It is Monday evening and we just arrived back in Lodwar from spending a couple of days in East Pokot.  We were there to attend the dedication of the new church building for the village of Kresia. API, through the Brad Pederson Memorial Building Fund, partnered with the AIC (African Inland Church) of Kresia to erect a new church building in the villiage.
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Although you might think it would be unbearably hot inside, we were surprised at how cool the interior stayed even as the sun rose high during our three-hour service.  There seem to be some fairly strong prevailing breezes that flow through the generously sized windows on each side.
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The church was overjoyed to have their own building after years of sitting under trees and other temporary structures. Because this ground is infested with termites, the church made the choice to use steel construction throughout.
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We were met by the women of the church singing their welcome and blessing to us as we arrived. And then we were all led in procession to the building entrance where we held the dedication service.
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We were then given the priviledge of unlocking and opening the door for everyone to enter. 
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Five local AIC churches came together for this Sunday service and the building was very full.
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The visitors were fitted out with local finery. And I got the hat with an osterich feather!
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However, I don't think we reached the pinnacle of sartorial splendor shown by the average local.
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The local choirs of each church was given time to present songs to the congregation.
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And then the visitors were give the opportunity to share something from the word to the congregation. Pastor Boniface went first, and then I followed.
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I'd like to thank Crossway Publishing and Ekklesia Afrika for their generosity in providing bibles for these believers. Each pastor received a personal Concise Study bible plus10 more for members in their congregations.
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We closed out our time in Kresia with a meal of Nyama Choma and rice (BBQ goat and rice) and left to swing by the village of Amaya, where we were this last spring. On the way we met a couple of young girls who were going through the rites of circumcision (FGM - Female Genital Mutilation). They are the two with long poles. This barbaric rite of passage ceremony is still practiced in many tribal cultures in Kenya.  Although the church speaks out against it, there is a massive cultural attachment to the practice.  But pushback against the culture is rising. The AIC here in East Pokot has recently begun a partnership with a western ministry to fund and build a rescue home for those young girls who are trying to escape this practice. Pastor Musa Maklab, of Amaya is spearheading the effort. Please pray that the gospel would breakthrough in this area and destroy the works of the devil among these people.
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After traveling to Amaya, about 5 kilometers away, we visited the dispensary which has been restarted by Pastor Musa.  This is the clinic where Linda Wickman served when she and her husband were in Kenya. They have hired a clinical officer to oversee the dispensary and hope to continue to expand the work here.
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We also want to thank Surfing Servants for the water purification systems they gave us to hand out over here.  As you might know, clean drinking water is a big issue in most of Kenya, especially in the remote rural areas like Amaya.  These simple devices are literally life-saving gifts to these people. We left one with the clinical officer of the dispensary and he was overjoyed!
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Thank you for your prayers.  God has been gracious to us and we continue to be in good health. Pray that the word that was preached and heard bears fruit for His glory!


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Summer Mission 2023

Friday, September 1, 2023
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We left Lodwar on Sunday afternoon on the 27th and traveled to Kakuma for our 3rd annual Pastors and Church Leaders conference. The picture above is of what is supposed to be a water fountain on one of the round-a-bouts in Lodwar, but hasn't been quite finished yet. We call it the Leaning Fountain of Lodwar.  And it's been there a while.
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We had 100 pastors together in Kakuma for this conference on the book of Ephesians and they were dialed into the word. They rarely got out of their seats during the sessions despite the temperature inside the building reaching well over 100 degrees. Rob said he was going to bring a thermometer next year to find out just how hot it was.  Last year some of his electronics bit the dust because of the hit, but we had no problems this year.
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Many pastors from the Kakuma Refugee camps attended this year.  We had pastors from Ruwanda, Burundi, Congo, South Sudan, and Ethiopia attending.  Most of them I talked to were intent on returning to their home country when they could and expressed their great appreciation for the training they were receiving. 
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We held Q&A sessions at the end of the teaching day and we were impressed by the quality of questions and the level of understanding among these pastors. 
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We closed out the conference with our resource handout, including food. I was told by one of the pastors from the refugee camps that what they received from us in food was more than they received in a month from the U.N.  Part of the problem with food distribution in the camps is that although the food is given free by western nations, including the U.S, the camp administration is run by the Kenyans and is very corrupt.  We have seen barrels of rice, corn, wheat and beans being sold in local markets even though they are clearly marked as U.S Aid.
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All of these pastors were so grateful, not only for the resources, but for the word they received. Pastor Ben of Elim Pentecostal church sent me an email yesterday that read: "Thank you so much it was such a blessing to have you in Kakuma for three days.  Have been blessed by the solid teachings from the book of Ephesians. I am  considering by the grace of God to start teaching the book of Ephesians in our church in series.I am fired up!"
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Yesterday, Rob and Tim returned to Nairobi to fly back to the U.S. tonight.  But Pastor Boniface, Paul our driver and I are on a road trip to East Pokot.  Tonight we are in Eldoret and then we travel tomorrow to Tengulbei to spend Saturday night. We will be in Kresia on Sunday to dedicate their new church building.  Please pray for us as we travel and minister.
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Summer Mission 2023

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Sunday, August 27, 2023
We finished our conference on the first eight chapters of Romans Friday night and it was a great week of teaching and learning, fellowship with all the pastors who came and connecting with longtime friends, like Pastor Daniel Njuguna of the Apostolic Faith church in Lodwar. I've known Daniel from the first time we came to Lodwar back in 2013 and he is not only a great friend but a great interpreter.
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At the end of the night we handed out the resources to the pastors provided by Crossway and Ekklesia Afrika. They each got a study guide for the book of Romans and Conrad Mbwewe's book on God's Design for the Church translated into Kiswahili.
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We also gave all the attendees some food to go along with the books. Many families are hurting right now as food prices have skyrocketed.  Everything they need to survive, especially the basic things like ugali flour, cooking oil and salt has doubled, tripled and in some cases, quaddrupled in price.  We want to thank all of you who provided famine relief funds for these people!
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Saturday was our rest day so we visited the home of our API Associate teacher, Boniface Lokuruka.
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Clean drinking water is hard to come by in Lodwar so we brought the family one of the water filters provided by Surfing Servants, an organization based in San Diego.  They provide water filters to communities in third world countries all over the world and they were kind enough to give API some to give out.
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One of Boniface's sons, Kevin, set it up right away and was impressed by how simple and easy they are to set up. Here he is reading the instructions on the bag. Many people in this area are subject to Typhoid because they have no source of clean drinking water.
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Today we travel to Kakuma to hold our conference on Ephesians.  Thank you for praying for us! God has kept the team healthy and strong thus far and we thank you for holding us up!
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Summer Mission 2023

Wednesday August 23, 2023
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We began our 10th annual conference in Lodwar Monday night. We are going through the first eight chapters of Romans and it is a challenging task.  But fortunately we have Pastor Tim Bourgeois from Tree of Life Church in Chatsworth, California with us to help break it down for us.  It is also challenging because the temperature is in the high 90's and there is no air conditioning in the venue. However, that doesn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the participants and we have 175 pastors and church leaders attending from 8:30 in the morning till 9 at night.
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Here are are few shots from the first two days.
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Tim and I each have our own interpreters that we have been working with for 10 years, and these guys are really good. Pastor Daniel Njuguna translates for me and Pastor Boniface Lokuruka translates for Tim. Translation is an incredibly difficult job, but these guys make it seem effortless and we have the confidence that they are getting the message across.
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The conference is hosted by the Lodwar Pastors Fellowship in concert with API School of Ministry.
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This is Paul our driver while we are in Lodwar. One of the best drivers we've had apart from our API driver, Frank Maina. Paul is a joy to work with and he anticipates our every need.
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Each day at 4 pm we have our Q & A session, allowing the participants to ask questions and get clarification on the material we have covered. These are very helpful, not only for the teachers but also for those who are attending. 
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We will keep you up to date on what is going on over here but the conference so far has been very helpful, encourageing and stimulating for those attending judging by the interactions we have had. The conference runs through Friday night and then on Sunday we move to Kakuma to begin a three-day conference in that city in partnership with the Kakuma Pastors Fellowship. Thank you for praying for us as we move through this week and next.
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Summer Mission 2023

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August 21, 2023
Rob and I arrived in Nairobi last Friday night after mildly eventual trips.  Rob flew to Amsterdam to Nairobi, and I flew to Paris and then Nairobi. We were supposed to arrive in Nairobi at the same time but both our flights were delayed by different things and I arrived about an hour later than he did. On the first leg of my flight, the person sitting next to me lost her lunch in the seat in between us and I made a hasty departure to another seat. My flight from Paris was delayed by a medical emergency after a boarding passenger fainted as he was walking to his seat. He revived with the help of some doctors on board, and then was checked out by a Dutch firemen paramedic team who okayed him to continue. However as we taxied out to our take off point, he fainted again and we returned to the gate and sent him off the plane. By this time we were two hours behind schedule and so arrived in Nairobi at midnight. But Frank had already collected Rob and we finally got to the hotel around 1:30.
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Tim arrived the next evening from Dubai and we left Sunday afternoon for Lodwar with John Kamau. Frank drove us to the airport for the flight to Lodwar which was thankfully uneventful. 
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We had a few too many bags and boxes to fit inside. Fortunately we have a roofrack on the vehicle.
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Our flight to Lodwar ran through Eldoret where we picked up two more members of the team - Pastors Shadrack and Reuben.
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We held our firsr session tonight and began a week of studying the first eight chapters of Romans.  More to come.
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Winter Mission 2022

Saturday December 9, 2022

It is Saturday evening and John and Frank and I are back in Nairobi.  We finished the conference in Matete Friday evening with about 130 pastors and church leaders in attendence. We spent the week teaching through Foundations of the Faith with these wonderful people who thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to study God's word in depth.  We had many new people at this conference who had heard of the ministry API is doing in this area and came to see for themselves. One of those turned out to be an excellent interpreter named Pastor Samuel Ndege.  He sent me a note shortly afterward saying, "Praise the Lord, Pastor Mike..I write to thank you so much for allowing God to use you in a mighty way. The members of my church who attended the conference and myself have been so much illuminated by the teachings.  And the book "Word Centered Church" is quite revelational.  Thank you so much.We continue to pray for your ministry, Pastor Mike. May the almighty God bless you indeed. And once again, thank you for allowing me to minister to God through your ministry."
Pastor Samuel Ndege, Grace - Way Ministries Int'l, Kakamega (on the right below)

I was blessed to have a team of teachers at this conference to help with the speaking.  Pastors Moses, Reuben and Shadrack all took turns teaching these pastors.





One pastor traveled all the way from Lamu, on the coast of Kenya, and another rode a bus from Uganda for 11 hours to be here. Both are students of API School of Ministry and really wanted to get some in-person training. Pastor Ezekiel from Uganda is one of our Biblical Counseling students who is ministering in the refugee camps there; and the other is Pastor Amoss who is in our Master's program and ministers among the Muslim population in Lamu.

Pastor Ezekiel

Pastor Amoss (on the right, with Pastor Samuel Ndege on the left)
As always, we had daily Q&A sessions which really were the highlight of each day.  What was especially gratifying about these was the fact that Moses, Reuben, and Shadrack were there answering questions along with me.  I thank God for the growth and maturity I was seeing in these brothers as they answered some really hard questions from the delegates.

Every day I had an opportunity to meet with pastors during the breaks between sessions and hear about their life and ministries.  And they were almost over the top in expressing their thanks to API for coming.



We enjoyed a lot of singing throughout the conference.
Friday we took a group photo just outside Pastor Moses' church.  The church has bought the rest of the land that extends to the road as you look past the back row, so they can expand their facilities. God is doing some wonderful work through this church, not only in Matete, but throughout the county and they are really growing.

Thank you to all who held us up in prayer and gave to make this conference possible! Just know that the gratitude of the pastors and church leaders for these kinds of learning opportunities is immense.  As one pastor told me, "Through the ministry of APi, our churches are growing so much in the knowledge of God and the right teachings of the Bible.  Tell your people that our hearts are full because of their love."
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Winter Mission 2022


Monday, December 5, 2022
On Saturday we visited three very remote villages to bring food. The first two were recent church plants by George and Boniface. They had come in November to show the Jesus film and share the gospel. Many people in both villages came to Christ as a result and George and Boniface appointed a pastor in each place. This trip was to provide food, share the gospel and bring a bible for the pastors who are some of the few who can read. This first village is called Kangataruk and the pastor is James Losike.

We were greeted by an enthusiatic children's choir on our arrival.
There are no chairs in this place so the men sit on little carved wooden stools called echecholongs, and the women and children sit on the sand. Fortunately, my driver Paul brought along one for me so I could sit with the men.

Pastor Boniface led the village in saying thank you to all who donated to bring them food.  So this is for you!
We moved from there to the village of Amayen, the second church plant.  To do that, we had to cross a major river that, although it is dry in this season, still poses challenges to vehicles.  We scouted the route on foot first and then, confident we could cross without too much trouble headed over.

As we were crossing the river, we came across a couple of boys at a waterhole.  These hand-dug wells are the only means to get water in this drought, but they can be dangerous the further down you have to dig.




We finally arrived in Ameyen, the second church plant.

Boniface also gave a bible to the pastor of this church - James Erukudi

From Ameyen we again took the trackless road to a village neither George nor Boniface had been yet called Nabenyo. They had been invited by a man from that village who was supposed to meet us to take us there.  However, he had urgent business elsewhere and never showed.  This is a village where George and Boniface want to plant a church. We finally arrived where we were greeted by the headman over the area who said that even though they didn't know us or who invited us, we were welcome in their home.

We were probably most welcome because we brought food. After we distributed the food, I noticed George engaged in conversation with an older woman who was leaving with her food. I asked him what the conversation was about and he told me she said that last night she didn't know if she would die or eat the next day, but thanks to the team she is going home to prepare her meal.

Thanks again for your support of this work.  Our team is continuing the famine relief even as I am headed to Matete to start our conference. Click on this link to donate for famine relief.
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Winter Mission 2022


Sunday, December 4, 2022
I flew into Eldoret this morning to meet two of my team, Frank and John, who drove up from Nairobi. Tomorrow we will travel to Matete to begin the conference.  Friday was another famine relief day and the first village we visited was Nakakerererei (and I can't even begin to pronounce that).  But it is one of those onomatopoeic words that mimics the sound of one of the native bird songs. This village was about an hour into the bush.

This village was really struggling and they were very grateful for the food and oil we brought.  We always make a point of bringing lollipops along for the kids and these kids blessed us with a song of thanksgiving.


After sharing the gospel and handing out the food we took off for another village a couple hours away.

The happy faces we left at Nakakerererei were ample reward for the hours of jolting travel!
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Winter Mission 2022


Sunday, December 04, 2022
I arrived in Kenya this past Tuesday and it has really been non-stop since I got here.  I spent Wednesday getting all the necessary things ready for the next two weeks and then took off for Lodwar on Thursday.  The plan was to arrive in the morning and then head out to the bush to some far villages to distribute food.  However, 20 minutes into a 45 minute flight, I was startled to see the landing gear deploy outside my window seat.  I was pretty sure we weren't preparing to land anywhere soon as we were probably 10,000 feet in the air, so I fgured we had an issue. My suspicions were confirmed 30 seconds later as we made a u-turn back to the airport.  We were assured it was a minor problem and after two hours and many promises of taking off 'soon', we were back in the air headed to Eldoret and then Lodwar.

I was picked up by my driver at the airport, driven to my hotel where I dropped off my baggage, and immediately headed out to the bush to our first stop at a remote village called Kangyangapus. When we arrived, Pastor Stephen (pictured above) was preaching to his people using a Proclaimer.  This is an audio device with the Turkana Bible on it.  He would play a few verses, and then add his commentary and ask the congregation questions for clarification and to see if they understood.  Stephen doesn't read or write as is the case with a majority of the congregation and this audio bible is all they have.  As you can probably tell, this is Stephen's most prized possession.  

As always, the children were both delighted and a little scared of the muzungu who suddenly appeard in their midst.

We had a great team of young men to do the heavy lifting. 



It is hard for us to fully appreciate the joy and gratitude the people of this viilage felt as they saw the food and oil being off-loaded and handed out. They have watched as their animal herds have been decimated by the prolonged drought and they have had to travel further and further for water and food to sustain their families.  But is is the men who perhaps feel the effects of this most keenly.  One of the older man took my hand as I was greeting him and, with evident pain in his face, told me that without their herds, there was no longer a way to be a man.  When there herds of goats, and sheep and camels were healthy and thriving, they could provide for their families.  But now they had no way to do that and instead were watching their families go hungry. 

But these people were incredibly encouraged that there were people they didn't even know who would show such compassion as to send them food and they wanted me to relay their heartfelt gratitude and love.  I want to thank all of you who have joined us in bringing food to the people of Turkana.  Since August we have been helping villages like this with food and cooking oil, and we will continue to do so even after I leave. Here is a short video clip of Pastor George talking about the challenges of feeding so many hungry people. I'll be posting more tomorrow.  I've been hampered by a sketchy internet network but I'll keep trying:)
 
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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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