Sunday, July 15, 2018

PAULS SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY

Here is some of what Paul said in one of his letters to his younger friend Timothy, as we have recorded for us in the book of Second Timothy: 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. (2:1-6 NAS) 

…Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness. (4:2-3, 5, 7-8 NAS) 

Paul the Scrapper

These words are almost standard fare for the Apostle Paul: Words of admonishment, words of advice, explanations of clear doctrine.

Paul was a fighter. He fought his whole life. Before he became a believer in Jesus Christ, he fought the Christians, persecuting them and getting them thrown into prison. After his meeting with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, his life made a 180-degree turn about. That is, he was converted

That is what conversion is, after all—making a complete turnabout. His zeal, however, remained just as strong; except now he was fighting all who would oppose the gospel, instead of fighting the gospel itself.

“You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness,” he told Elymas the magician. “Will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time” (Acts 13:10-11).

These are not words of a timid man. This is how we are accustomed to seeing Paul. Never flinching: never backing down: never giving up.

“All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household,” he told the Philippians (4:22).

Paul wrote these words while a prisoner of Caesar. He was under house arrest and had a Roman guard with him at all times. It was these of Caesar’s household whom he had led to the Lord.

Even as he was a prisoner of the empire of Rome, we see Paul as victorious.

It was on the way to Rome that the ship that Paul was on endured gale force winds. Paul and the rest of the people onboard were finally shipwrecked. It was only the words of Paul that kept the crew safe. Without his advice, many, if not all, would have surely perished.

This is Paul—always in control, always on top of things.

When Paul writes, he writes to teach doctrine, to give advice, to encourage, and perhaps to reprove. We see the same type of writing in Second Timothy. As I have said in an earlier chapter of this book, when we study a book of the Bible, we are accustomed to outlining it and dissecting it much like a specimen in biology class.

This is not wrong. In fact, it is quite helpful. It is systematic study, and it is exegesis. By this method, we find and learn the true doctrines of the Bible and understand who God is in a more complete manner. Nevertheless, it is also helpful to remember the occasions on which the passage was written. 

A Letter to a Friend

The book of Second Timothy is more than another book in a series of instructional essays. Of course it is true that what Paul wrote is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and is “profitable for teaching, reproof, correcting, and for training in righteousness.”

But in addition to this, it is helpful to remember that it was first and foremost a letter. It was a letter to a friend. It is true that the book was inspired by the Holy Spirit to also be used as Scripture, but as well as that, it was a letter that one man wrote to another.

I think it is important to remember this fact, because we sometimes get the idea that the men and women of the first century church, and indeed all the characters of the Bible, were somehow different than us. We find we have trouble identifying with them.

However, in the second letter to Timothy, we see the humanness of Paul like nowhere else, except perhaps in his second letter to the Corinthians. It is especially in these two letters that we see another side of Paul. In these letters, we see a Paul who is distressed about something that had happened in his life.

In the second of his letters to Timothy, despite his words of advice to his young friend, Paul was not on top of things. He was in prison, but he was not busy converting the Roman guards as he seems to have been doing when he wrote to the Philippians.

When Paul wrote this letter to his friend Timothy, he was lonely and languishing in a dungeon. The man Onesiforus, who visited Paul, and for whose visit Paul was very thankful, had to search Rome to even find out where Paul was imprisoned. In many ways, Paul felt abandoned. In many ways, he had been abandoned.

The New Testament book of Second Timothy was a letter. Letters have purposes, and letters often can give an impression of the emotional state of the writer. There is something about an actual physical letter that is especially given to this. It is more difficult to get the same sense in an email or a text message. But a pen put to a paper is more tactile. It puts you more in touch with the writer.

You also may have gotten letters like that from a friend or family member. As far as the actual words that were written, there may not be too much that one could place one’s finger on, but we could tell that the letter was written just because the writer needed someone to talk to. I think this is how it was for Paul in writing to Timothy.

Paul was nearing the end of his life on this earth (4:6-7). Second Timothy is his last writing; at least, it is the last that we now have in existence. Paul was assessing his own life. He was reminiscing about what had gone well and what had not. I think it was a time of great introspection for him.

He needed his friend to talk with. Luke was with him. Luke had been a faithful friend, walked many hundreds of miles with Paul, and rode the ships of the Mediterranean with him.

Nevertheless, Paul also wanted Timothy to come, before winter if he could. Paul said, “Oh, and bring my cloak. I left it in Troas with Carpus.”

Why was he eager for Timothy to come? It was not because he needed his cloak for the winter. Paul wanted to strengthen Timothy in the faith. Others of Paul’s helpers had not been so faithful. This was a great disappointment to Paul, and judging by the tone of his letter, it hurt him deeply. 

A Letter to Affirm a Friendship

“You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes,” Paul wrote to Timothy (1:15). He then mentions Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had taken the true doctrine that Paul had taught them and twisted it and perverted it (2:17-18).

However, I think the person who hurt Paul the most deeply, and perhaps even what prompted him to write the letter, is found in this statement: “Make every effort to come to me soon, for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (4:9-10).

Demas, like Timothy, had been one of Paul’s helpers, one of his co-workers. Demas had been with Paul through many difficult circumstances. He had even earlier served time with Paul in prison.

But in the end, Demas became tired of the battle. He decided that the attractions of the world were more appealing than his work for the gospel. He abandoned Paul. Perhaps it was this, at least partially, that caused Paul to write to his young friend about “entrusting the gospel to faithful men,” and that “no soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life.”

However, despite Paul’s disappointment with Demas, he had maintained a greater confidence in Timothy. He says, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5, NAS). Timothy’s heritage went back to his family. 

A Letter to a Family Member

We really do not know very much about Paul’s personal life, but it may be that Timothy was about as close to family that Paul had ever had. Paul had poured much of his life into Timothy. He calls Timothy “my beloved son.”

In his first letter to Timothy, he calls him “my true child in the faith.” Of course, Timothy was not Paul’s biological son, but Paul saw in Timothy the fruit of his spiritual life. He tells Timothy to “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6, NAS).

I like this illustration of spiritual fruit. They show that Paul knew Timothy in his formative years, he cultivated and saw Timothy as he grew, and he knew Timothy as he matured. Paul trusted him as no other. Paul had many on whom he relied, many people whom he had discipled, but of Timothy he said to the church at Philippi, “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare” (Philippians 2:19-20 italics mine).

Others had deserted Paul. This was a great discouragement to him. Nevertheless, despite that hurt, Paul could go back to Timothy. He knew Timothy, and he knew of Timothy’s faithfulness. Their history together was deep.

And now in prison, Paul needed to see Timothy. He needed the encouragement of his son.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Make every effort to come before winter.” 

Encouraging One Another

The Proverbs tell us, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for times of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

The writer of Hebrews says, “Encourage one another every day, so that none of you will find your heart hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Let us consider how to inspire one another to have the courage to love, and to do good.

 “Do not neglect meeting together. This is what some do. But you should encourage one another—and all the more as you see the final days drawing near” (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25).

In my own life, I have been fortunate in having the great privilege to have many co-workers in the faith in several countries. Those who are involved with the work of the gospel know the level of discouragement that can come with it. True workers of the gospel do not work for a paycheck. If that were all, we could at least see some rewards in our work every two weeks.
If we were soldiers, we could see victories in battle.
If we were construction workers, we could see buildings going up.
In fact, we do not work for anything that is tangible. We work for nothing that we can put our hands on. We work for the lives of men and women and of boys and girls. We work that the name of Jesus and his teaching be known, and that people might put their faith in Jesus as their Savior.

There is no concrete measure to our progress in this work, although many try to quantify it by various means. Some look at things such as attendance numbers, or numbers of “conversion cards” filled out. But the truth is, no one really knows. Attendance numbers may be indicators that your work is having some effect, and cards filled out may seem promising, but these things mean absolutely nothing unless the person has actually decided to follow Jesus.

The truth is, the results of those who work for the gospel will never be known in this life. Those results will only be made known in eternity. That is our reward. That is our crown. But that is also why our work here is can become discouraging. We do not even know if our efforts are bearing any lasting results.

And that is why having the encouragement of brothers and sisters involved in the same work is so important.

I have been fortunate in my life to have some of these.

As examples of how we can encourage on another, here are some words from brothers in other parts of the world that have encouraged me in the past. I leave the text largely untouched, so it may read a little broken and peculiar; but remember also, English is the second or even third language of some of these people. Some of this I have also translated from Spanish. The following is a compilation from a few different sources: 

Dear fellow co-worker,

Grace, peace, Love, Power, joy and glory from the father of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ be unto you. We are very much glad because we believe and trust you are well. We are so glad for the prayers you are offering for our church. They are availing much because many souls are being added to the church and to the heaven Kingdom. That is our purpose—that many come to know the saving grace and accept Jesus as their personal savior. 

Never be afraid nor dismayed of the people who are trying to hinder you. You will never see them, and our Father who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light will fight for you. 

Beloved the one who has called you and has watch over you will never sleep or close eyes and ears to your cry, will be there help you and is closer even now and will make you come out victoriously. 

Be assured that God is with you now; He will be in you then; and He is for you forever, all year round; His words will not change concerning you despite the attacks and He will guide you to the success. 

May God manifest himself to you always according to his will, and continue to use your efforts as rocks to build his kingdom. 

Praise to God for your prayers really we are seeing great work taking place here. Our fellow co-laborer in the lord, continue doing it for to God it’s not in vain. God has laid reward and crowns for you in heaven keep up the same spirit.  We thank God for the connection in the spirit and the relationship has instituted for us to be an encouragement to each other.
***** *************

These have been some who have encouraged me in the past.

At another time in Paul’s ministry, before he wrote his last letter to Timothy, he said in a letter to the people of the church in Colossae, “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself” (Colossians 2:2 NLT).

And to the Thessalonians, final words to them and also to us: “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

SEVEN LESSONS IN GREATNESS


The gospel writer Mark talks about a time when James and John, the sons of Zebedee, said something that caused the other disciples to feel “indignant” toward them.

Indignant is a rather intense word. Some synonyms are outraged, incensed, angry and resentful.  What was it that these two brothers could have said to cause their friends and partners to feel this way?

The reason was because James and John had come to Jesus with a request. They approached him and said this: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you” (Mark 10:35 NAS).

Thursday, July 5, 2018

KISII REPORT #7

I have mentioned before the highland malaria of Kisii. Historically, this was an area of Kenya that was free from the illness. But with the increased travel between the eastern coastlines and the western highlands in the beginning of the 20th century, the mosquito-borne parasite made its way to the area.

For many years, malaria was treated in Kenya by Chloroquine, which reduced significantly the spread of the disease. However, the parasite that causes the disease eventually developed a resistance to this medication. Largely because of this resistance, there was a re-emergence of malaria in the 1980’s.

Unfortunately, this emergence came about the same time that other health epidemics arose in Africa, epidemics such as HIV-AIDS, Zika and Ebola. This has all put a large strain on the already fragile health care system of Africa, which has reportedly been decreasing in quality in the past 25 years.

I asked Pastor Joel what drugs are now used by doctors to cure the malaria, and he sent me an extensive list of different ones that they try: Artemether/Lumefantrine, Coartem, Malarone, Plaquenil, Doxycycline, Mefloquine…25 in all. Nothing works great, but they at least give the doctors a choice of options to try, that is, if the drugs are available.

There are also several drugs that can be taken as prophylactics, or prevention medications, but they do not actually prevent malaria from beginning in the body. Once the person has been infected, in the initial stage of malaria, it first affects the liver. It is from the liver that it eventually spreads to the blood stream. At least this is my understanding.

The parasite reaches the liver through the blood by an infected mosquito bite, but then goes through part of its development in the liver. It is only when it reaches the “erythrocytic stage,” or the blood stage, were these “prevention drugs” have any effect at all.

Malaria cases have been very high in Kisii this year in particular because of the historically heavy rains. Beyond the human suffering, and speaking on merely a pragmatic level, it has been a huge drain on the funding for the orphans. In addition to the challenges caused by the prices for many vegetables doubling their former levels, and the other problems brought on by the rain, Pastor Joel and the church leadership have had to spend a lot of money on malaria prevention and treatment for the orphans.

Hospital stays have been the most costly, but they have also bought some prevention drugs and mosquito nets to help protect the orphans while they sleep. I have never visited the hospital where they bring the sick orphans, but they have sent me so many photos that I almost feel like I have been there.

Interestingly enough, another prevention against malaria has simply been buying clothing for the children who had none.

The new dormitory of the orphans would also be an important prevention for this problem (along with other problems), and that is why I am praying that we can get it built before next rain season. I appreciate your prayers also in this.

We pray that our God in heaven will bless His children with this gift.

I have spoken before of the great needs at the orphanage. They are not unique needs, I know. Many in the world live in similar situations. But for reasons that I do not know, these are the children that the Lord has given to me. Perhaps there are others who will join with me in this task in helping these children.

When I look at this situation with a realistic eye, it seems undoable. I have mentioned on several occasions that this task is so great that it is actually beyond any resources that I can image. It will take even the lunch of a boy to meet these needs.

By this I mean at the feeding of the 5000, the need to feed the people was so great that the disciples could see no way possible. But there was a boy there, a young lad, with a humble lunch of five small loaves of bread and two fish. These he gave to Jesus. Jesus blessed the food and began giving it to the disciples to distribute to the people sitting on the ground. All ate until all were satisfied.

This is what we need. We need the blessing of Jesus on this work.

We also need to pray that the children be protected from additional peripheral problems, like malaria and other illnesses. If you do not mind the graphic illustration, but these illnesses drain the resources from the children like diarrhea drains the energy from their small bodies.

We pray to Jesus for his blessing and protection.

 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

WEARINESS

The Apostle Paul wrote in one of his letters, “Do not grow weary of doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13 NAS).

When one is facing extreme difficulties and is already weary of the effort, these are words that seem almost too easy to say.

It seems it is a bit like saying to a sad person, “Be happy.”

We cannot simply generate happiness, just as we cannot simply deny that we are weary. There must be reasons for a person to feel happy. In much the same way, for one to not be weary when he feels fatigued, something also has to be done. 

Weariness of a Different Color

Certainly in happiness, it is sometimes a matter of outlook. We become unhappy when we allow ourselves to focus on what is not going right and ignore or diminish the blessings that we have.

Can such a positive outlook in the same way enable us to overcome weariness?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

KISII REPORT #6

The single observation that affected me most when I visited the Log Church of Kenya last year and met the orphans, was to see their gratitude over the most simple of gifts. I still hold in my mind the image of two little boys who each received one pencil and two color crayons, holding them up in the air and so thankful that they had their own things to draw with! Their smiles were so broad, and their huge eyes almost laughing with joy, it seemed like with all the smiles and the eyes, there was very little room left for face.

The needs continue there, and if I wished, I could write every day and tell you about some new problem that has arisen—malaria being the latest. But instead I want to share a letter written to me by Pastor Joel. It does not show a complaining people who are engrossed in self-pity, but a thankful people who are joyful in the gifts of God!

 

Dear Dad Don,

We are hoping that all is well with you over there in the States! We thank God for what He is doing for the church and orphanage down here in Kenya!

How is your family and the church ministry doing over there?

Our Lord God is always great and merciful to our services that we do in serving Him and volunteering ourselves in the ministry! Every time we praise and glorify God for the gift of
life and the good care of our orphans here in Kenya!

My dad, we had a good Sunday service in the church. Many came and more souls were saved into the kingdom of God!


Children praised God with songs and dancing gratefully to Him because of the good care and protection of their lives!

And the church choir glorified God with some songs too!

After the service all church members and the children enjoyed eating food during the lunch time at the church! We provided enough food for children and the orphans to eat till everyone got satisfied with the meal.

Pastor Don, we also helped some poor families with food and gifts. Besides, children are thankful to God for the gift of clothes that you sent them!

My dearest dad, actually it is a great joy to our children in the orphanage that God is always using you and your friends to care for their miserable lives into a better thing! We are praying for you and God to enrich you with His blessings!!! 

Proverbs 11:25
Your Son Joel



Sunday, June 24, 2018

OH, THE WONDERUL WRATH OF GOD

For some years I was on the teaching staff at a Bible Institute and Seminary in Venezuela. During the course of the school year, we had daily chapel services for the staff and students. The messages for these services were generally given by one of the professors, but the time was also intended to be practical instruction for the students, in that they were in charge of arranging the rest of the service.
It was for one of these services that the director of the school asked me to speak on the subject of the wrath of God. Two or three of the students were preparing the rest of the program and were to plan it around the same theme. When the young woman who was in charge of finding the music approached me with her dilemma, I understood her situation.

The young lady told me that she could not find any hymns or other songs that had the “Wrath of God” as their subject. For all the other attributes of God: the grace of God, the love of God, the wisdom of God, and all the rest, we have many songs in our song books.

But we do not sing “Oh, the Wonderful Wrath of God” or “We Rejoice in the Deep Wrath of God.” What the young student told me was true. Nor, if we think about it, do we even hear many sermons on the wrath of God. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

KISII REPORT #5

In the past week or so, I have been in frequent contact with Pastor Joel concerning the building for the girls. Thanks to the gifts of several people, we recently have been able to purchase the crushed rock for the construction of the base. It is perhaps a small step
forward in the process, but this will most likely be a project completed by small steps. We already have bricks needed for the building, plus a few other basic materials.

We would have actually been able to purchase much more of the needed building materials, but the present food/clothing/malaria crisis has taken most of the money that has been donated. We are very thankful for those who gave, since it provided much relief for the orphans.

The high food prices continue, and three of the orphans are presently in the hospital with malaria, but I would like to take this time to talk about the building that I am praying can be finished before the next rain season.

The church had in mind to build quite a large building for the girls (30 X 48), which they said would sleep up to 70 girls. They are thinking of future needs, and I don’t mind saying that it is a little frightening to me to learn that the need is this great.

Presently however, the orphanage has only 42 children—boys and girls. I suggested to Joel to partition the building so that it could house all of the orphans that are there at this time, girls on one end and boys on the other. The present situation for the boys is not much better than that of the girl’s, and I thought that this might be a
Present Boy's Dorm
better use of the building at this time.

Having very little knowledge of local customs, I suspected that there may be cultural reasons for not doing this, reasons of which I was not aware. Just as I suspected, Joel responded that he did not know if the government would allow the boys and girls to be housed in the same building, even with a solid partition. It was for “security” reasons, he said.

I then suggested two smaller buildings, with a plan for expansion when that would become necessary. More cost, but it would better meet present needs. Joel said that he would go into Kisii town to speak with the Kenyan building authorities.
The Girls Inside Their Dorm
I guess I do not have an outside photo of the
Girl's dorm, but it is just a corner room of the
already small mud house where the pastor lives
with his wife and two small children

The end result is that the government will allow the common housing, given certain restrictions. To build under these restrictions will also increase the cost of the original plans somewhat, but nowhere near constructing two separate buildings. Since they have not yet begun to build, nothing is lost, so we continue to move ahead in short steps.

You can see that the care of these orphaned children is a large commitment. In some quiet moments that I have, it still sometimes hits me quite hard that the Lord has put this upon me in this twilight stage of my life. It is not what I had in mind for my life and something that I ran from for about a year until I could run no more.

I see no end to this work for me—no retirement, but I must say that it is a great honor to me that the Lord would entrust this to me. Certainly there are others who are much better equipped, but I have sought to serve God through serving his church my entire adult life. I am grateful (at least in some ways) that even in my old age, he still considers me trustworthy.

It is a ministry that is so far beyond me that I actually have no hope of being able to do it. This work is so large for me that it requires a young lad’s lunch. I think I have mentioned that before, but I will explain more in the next Kisii Report.

Monday, June 18, 2018

ISAAC - THE DIGGER OF WELLS

Finding Life 

After Sarah and Abraham had died, and when their son Isaac was living in the land of Canaan, famine again struck the territory, just as it had done years earlier in Abraham’s time. Isaac, the same as his father, also found it necessary to leave the area so that he could feed his family and herds until the famine had come to an end.

Unlike his father however, Isaac did not go to Egypt. In fact, the Lord forbade him to do so. It may be that he started out for that country, but the Lord interrupted his plans.

“Do not go down to Egypt,” the Lord told Isaac. “Rather, stay in the land where I will tell you.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

KISII REPORT #4


The town of Kisii is only about 47 miles from the equator (0.68º N). Because this seems like it should be a tropical climate, it appears strange to many people that one of the needs of the orphanage is blankets. We northerners have a general perception that the equatorial zones have only two seasons: hot and hotter. But it is amazing what a little elevation in altitude can do.

Kisii town has an elevation of 5558 feet. This altitude modifies the temperature considerably throughout the year. The daily highs remain mostly in the 70’s, with the 50’s at night. It does seem quite ideal, except when there is the wind from a storm system, you are in wet clothing under a thin wet blanket sleeping on a wet dirt floor, and you have had nearly nothing to eat all day.

Girl's Dormitory
The rains in Kisii are beginning to subside now, but for the past three months or so, they have had almost unprecedented wet weather, receiving rain about every day. I wrote in an earlier blog of some of the difficulties that this created for the people and the orphanage of the Log Church, including some of the difficulties that it caused for the children.

One of these difficulties was that they did not have more than one set of clothes so that they could put on something dry (some of the smaller children had no clothing at all). Another difficulty was that many of them had to sleep on a wet floor, and since the floor is dirt, the wetness could almost be defined as mud. A third difficulty was that they had inadequate covering at night to try and stay warm.

These difficulties compounded to create very stressful physical living conditions. Constantly staying wet and cold at night kept everyone from receiving adequate rest, preventing the children to be able to fight off sickness.

Oh, there is one more difficulty I should mention that compounds this problem. This is that the availability of food has become very difficult because of flooding and ruined crops. The food that has been available has been very expensive. In the last Kisii Report I gave an example of an increase of about 34%, but Joel tells me now that many vegetables (their primary diet) have doubled in price.

Sleeping on the dirt floors have also exposed the children to a number of illnesses, soil born parasites among them. However, perhaps the most dangerous problem from sleeping in this way is the exposure to fecal matter that has been brought in on the shoes of the children, or on their bare feet. It almost impossible to sterilize the soil, and this causes much diarrhea, which is actually the leading killer of children in third world countries.

Of course good sanitation would help, but keeping good sanitation in such an environment with inadequate facilities becomes nearly impossible. You can see that there are many needs at the orphanage, adequate buildings and also latrines among them.

All of these things together has created a “perfect storm,” when the weakened bodies of these children are unable to fight off illness. I was also going to write a little about the malaria situation at the present, but I will wait on that for another time.


Those ain't plastic store bags!
We have been very grateful for several gifts from readers of this blog so that the workers of the orphanage were able to buy good amounts of food. They had to travel quite far to find it, but as you can see in the photo, they came home in a hired car with some full shopping bags!

The orphanage has been in emergency mode as of late because of the weather conditions and the food shortage. We are praying that we can move beyond that now and resume gathering building materials for a sleeping room for the girl orphans. It is my prayer that we can get it built before next rainy season.

More about that next time.

 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

THE ALLEGORY CONCERNING SARAH

- or -
HOW TO LIVE IN FREEDOM
I have already discussed much of Sarah’s history in a previous post, but perhaps it would be helpful to also introduce her perspective from the very beginning as it is given to us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

KISII REPORT #3


I have been asking Pastor Joel some more about the food situation for the orphans. These past two weeks, and thanks to Lord speaking to some faithful servants of his who gave some money gifts for the orphans (These were also friends of mine, even going back to someone that I have not seen or even corresponded with for 35 years), I was able to twice send a nice amount to the orphanage. Because of the concern and obedience of these servants of God, these money transfers were $600 each time.

It is a good amount, but when you consider that their food/water
costs amount to about $3.00 per day per child if they were to eat well, and that there are 42 orphans besides others who are in extra need of help, you can see that it does not last that long.

Sometimes I am asked if we are not simply “enabling” these people and causing a dependency. I have been asked that all of my adult life regarding things that I have done in other countries. I have written quite a lot on this in the past so I will not do it again here, but I will very quickly say that I am working very hard to instill in the people that all sufficiency comes only from the Lord.

After all, every one of us is equally dependent on the Lord. Without
God, none of us have anything. It is only our arrogant western culture where we look pridefully at ourselves as being “self-sufficient.” If you feel like this, you have my pity.

Inevitably, the people who ask or accuse me of this are ones who have never lived in a third-world country and probably have never even visited one except to stay in some plush seaside beach resort (the bane of all cross-cultural appreciation). I challenge every one of you who feels this way to live one year in a third-world village. It almost does not matter in what country.

But you must live an entire calendar year with the people to see their struggles in each season of the year, and you must live as their neighbor. (Sorry, but a summer ministry trip capped by a couple of nights in one of the aforementioned beach resorts will not do it).

Now, I will step down off my soapbox and tell you what pastor Joel told me about the food situation there. Because of the recent flooding in the entire country of Kenya, there is a scarcity of virtually every basic food item. The inflation is not super-high, as it presently is in some of the other countries where we have lived (most notably Venezuela), but it still significantly effects the budget.

The orphanage tries to buy their food supplies in large quantities if they have the money, since it makes it less expensive per kilogram. The prices that he gave me was for a 90 kilo sack, which is 198 pounds. I did not ask, but it must come divided into smaller sacks. Who is going to carry a 198 pound sack!

Maize flour purchased in this way, for instance, now costs about $67.00. Before it cost $50.00 (They do not use Dollars there but the conversion is made from Kenyan Shillings).

This works out to about 55¢/kilo or 25¢/pound. For all you millennials, the ¢ sign stands for “cents,” and it is .01 of a dollar. We actually used to use this sign, and there used to be a key for it on the typewriters, but I had to look quite hard on the character map of my laptop to find it.

I was in town today so I went into the Medford County Market to see what maize (corn) flour cost here in Wisconsin. I know nothing about it, but the price range was from about 64¢ to about 96¢/pound.

Thus, 25¢/pound in Kenya sounds like quite a bargain.

But I asked Joel what the daily wage was for a person picking tea, which was about the only work for pay that I knew of in that region. I also asked him if the work was even available and if there were other sources of work that the people could do.

Here is what he wrote to me: “The wage of picking tea is $1 per day. We have other work, eg, cultivating shambas (small fields - it is all hand work) for those who have a larger piece of land but not easily found and its wage depends with the shamba. But in all each person earns about $1 a day.”

So this puts it into perspective. It will take a worker a full day’s work to buy 4 pounds of maize flour. That is like one of those little sacks I saw at the County Market. And that is only if he is able to buy it in 200 pound quantities.
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I was also going to write in this blog about something else that I have been asked. If Kenya is on the equator, how is it possible for the children to be cold? But I will write about that next time.