Sometimes there are times when the Bible just really makes sense. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8-12 it says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also,
how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” This passage does a good job of crystallizing our feelings about our life in Kenya. We have been back in America for a week now and, while we’re trying to sort out everything in our heads about the future, we really miss our friends and Christian family in Kenya.
We finished our ministry in Kenya on a strong note. We are truly thankful to God that we didn’t limp to the finish line. Two weeks ago, we were able to baptize 12 believers in our fish pond. One of them, a young man named Griffins, became a born-again believer this year while going through the discipleship program. At the beginning of the year, he came to us and asked us for permission to go and interview for a place in the priesthood of his church. We counseled him and asked him to wait, that there would be more opportunities in the future. At his baptism, he told us, “Oh, Baba Joy [Eric], thank you so much for being patient with me! If it weren’t for you, I would be like a blind man leading other blind men straight into a hole. You have opened my eyes and I will always be thankful for what you have taught me!”
Then a week later came our graduation at Camp Jabez for our students. This year’s class was the biggest class ever, there were 15 graduates! We started the year with 22 students, but some ran away and others got kicked out for bad behavior. Yet, the ones with whom we finished we are extremely proud of. It was awesome to see the hand of God in people’s lives.
One girl, Mercy, at the beginning of the year had had a very bad attitude. We even suspended her for 10 days because her attitude was affecting others. At the end of the year, she was known as “Chairlady of the Choir” and her demeanor had done a 180-degree turnaround.
Morris was another student of ours who almost left to repeat high school, but we counseled him to trust God that He can open up opportunities that we cannot imagine. God was vindicated when several months later Morris got a notification that he had been accepted to the University. He stood up in front of the audience on graduation day and testified to God’s faithfulness to him in the midst of doubts and trials, and how he himself had grown and matured in the past 10 months at Camp Jabez. For all these guys and girls, we are so proud and humbled at the same time that God would choose to use us to leave a mark in their lives.
We left Kenya last week and, believe us, saying goodbye was not easy. Although we know that it’s the life of a missionary, it’s so hard to leave your friends and those you have spent years caring about and investing in. We said a very teary farewell to our leaders who we’ve lived with for the past 3 years and who will stay there to carry on the work of discipleship in our absence. Please keep Mike,
Vitalis, Johnny, George, Casty, and Victor in your prayers. The task is not easy, and there are times when they don’t feel qualified to carry on the ministry. But by God’s help, they will. God’s kingdom is always advancing!
We are getting unpacked and trying to settle (settle as best as nomads can) into our new digs in Minnesota. But our thoughts are st
ill with God’s work in Africa. Won’t you please keep us in your prayers that God would encourage us and guide us during this time? Please pray that our expenses would be met and either that Eric could find a flexible job (because we need time for meeting with supporters) or that God would provide a series of odd-jobs here and there that can help pay the bills and put food on the table. Please also pray that we could be an encouragement to others and, as 1 Timothy 4:12 says, set an “example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity…”
From January 3-15, Eric will be traveling with Friendship Church to Mali, West Africa. Please keep that trip in your prayers. This will be Eric’s first glimpse of life in western Africa and his first touch of French-speaking Africa (the Central African Republic, where we will be going in the future, is also officially French-speaking). They will be showing the Jesus Film in villages at night, visiting houses sharing the Gospel, and encouraging the very young local church there. Right now, Eric is looking for people to specifically pray for that mission and if you’re interested in being one of those people, let us know and we’ll get you on a ‘special prayer list’ to be updated as they are on the mission.
Finally, if you can be praying for us as we step out in faith towards the Central African Republic with Africa Inland Mission, we would be grateful. Our next steps are to find more prayer supporters and additional financial support for the mission there. If all our current supporters continue to give and make the transition with us to A.I.M., then our support is about 60% of what we’ll need. We won’t be able to board a plane for the C.A.R. until we have commitments for 100% of our support. Please be praying with us that God will touch people’s hearts to give towards His work in Africa. Even in the midst of a tough economy and various human struggles God is able to provide – He is, after all, Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides!
We are so thankful for your love to us, your encouragement, and your support. We probably don’t have your phone number, so if you want to give us a call while we’re around, Juli’s number is 952-393-5443 and Eric’s is 952-688-7934. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon!