craig’s words from kenya
This afternoon we got an email from Craig with a wonderful story to share. Here’s what he said:
Greetings from Kenya,
This afternoon Pastor Fred had arranged for me to meet with the congregation of a new church plant between here and the Masai Mara. It was about an hour and a half down a bumpy dirt road. There is no telling what all Pastor Fred had told them about me, because I can’t remember being more warmly welcomed. The church had set up in someone’s back yard with a tarp for shade and some sound equipment on a generator. There were about 40 adults and 30 small children. The founding pastor is on leave from the Kenyan Air Force and is an accomplished musician. The time of worship was incredible. The dancing started when our car pulled up and things built for about 20 minutes. It was especially fun for me watching the young children watching the adults and learning to worship.
Then the pastor introduced himself and began to give his testimony. He is a recent convert from a crusade at Fred’s church who is on fire for the Lord. As the pastor began to transition from his testimony to introducing Fred (who would then introduce his special friend from America) something happened that I’ll never forget. Three vehicles pulled up quickly and out poured about 10 Kenyan uniformed police led by some other official who was not in uniform. He demanded to see the church’s permit to use sound amplification equipment. (A new law exists in Kenya requiring such a permit.) The pastor calmly reached into his Bible and handed the official the required permit. The official was unfazed and proceeded to scold the pastor long and loud for such an unlawful assembly. (Fred was quietly translating for me.) He had his officers haul the pastor away and confiscate all the sound equipment. He also told the congregation to disband immediately. (No one moved.)
The pastor was wonderful. He did not argue back but quietly listened to all that was said without comment or fear. As he was being escorted out, he told Fred to finish out the meeting. After they left, Fred shared with the congregation that sometimes trying to do something significant for God draws opposition from the powers of darkness. He then told of his own story of going to comfort a family late at night who had experienced a death in the family – then being arrested for being out so late, spending the night in jail and God using him that night among his fellow prisoners. He then introduced me to the congregation by saying that maybe God had a word for them through me.
It was such a privilege for me to be able to tell this congregation with great confidence that we can count it joy when we encounter trials of any kind. I told them that they would tell their children and their childrens’ children about this day. That the day would soon come when they would count it a deep privilege to be a part of this special day when darkness tried to oppose what God was up to. That this day would be greatly used by God IF they responded properly to it. That Jesus had been clear about the way he wants his followers to respond. That WE are to return love and forgiveness when we are treated wrongly. That this was a God-given opportunity to love these ones in authority who had treated them so shamefully. That if we will love our enemies AND if we will love each other, then God will be greatly honored. That we especially needed to love the pastor and his family in this.
Then we all circled up and I prayed for this young congregation (The church is 4 weeks old.) In wrapping up, Fred repeated everything I had said calling it a word from God and helping overcome any communication barriers that might have kept each one from understanding.
As is the Kenyan custom, they proudly brought me a warm Coke for me to enjoy as they watched and then presented me with the gifts of some decorative gourds and a large, lively chicken to take back in the truck cab. I will treasure the gourds; the orphans will eat the chicken.
Later this evening Fred called me to excitedly report that the entire congregation went to the police station to show love to the police and to their pastor. The police let him go without any fines or repercussions. I feel inadequate to explain what a deep privilege it was for me to be involved in this. It is a day I’ll never forget and that I hope has marked me.
A privilege to be here in the name of Jesus and Fellowship North,