Sunday, August 18, 2019

THE WIDOW'S MITE - (It's not about the money)


I take this reading from Mark 12:41-44 (NAS). 

He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.


Sunday, August 11, 2019

KISII REPORT - THE LORENA ROCKET STOVE


In many parts of the developing world, food is still cooked using
The Orphanage Cooks Preparing a Meal
Outside Using the Three Rock System
the “Three Rock” system. What is the three rock system? It is just as it sounds—three rocks spaced just right for a kettle to sit on top and a wood fire beneath. It’s the system we sometimes use when we are camping, and it is the system that they were using at the orphanage when I have visited them.

It works fine, except that most of the heat is lost so that it is not used at all for cooking. This way of cooking uses a lot of wood. In an area such as in Kisii, where most of the land is used for crops, firewood is not cheap. Money that instead could be used to buy food literally “goes up in smoke.”
My friend Benjamin's daughter cooking us a meal

And that is another thing about the Three Rock system. If the weather is rainy and obligates you to cook indoors, the room fills with smoke, making it nearly impossible to breathe. I was told that many women in Kenya have lung problems from a lifetime of breathing smoke from the fires as they cooked the meals.

I went in, but did not stay inside long
So when I went to Kenya the last time, I brought to them plans to make a “Lorena Stove,” as we called them in Latin America. These are simple stoves that are inexpensive to build, mostly out of rammed earth. Our son Matthew helped a number of people build Lorena Stoves when he was in the Peace Corps in Panama.
I call the stoves “simple,” but they are actually quite technologically advanced. Some are built in such a way that most of the combustion heat is directed at the cooking pot and almost none is lost up the stovepipe. (Check it out— https://www.appropedia.org/Rocket_Lorena_Stove )
I do not know where this Lorena Stove was made.
I pulled the image from the internet

When I went to visit the orphanage last February, I brought some plans and diagrams for making a Lorena Stove, and explained to them the benefits of it. I do not actually know for sure if it was a new concept to them. They may have known about it before I brought the information, but I may have at least planted a seed of thinking. I remember thinking that I wished it was possible for me to stay there for perhaps at least a couple of months to help them to begin some of these projects and ideas that I brought to them (there were others as well).

Frankly, I did not expect them to make such a stove before someone went there to help them in the process, so imagine my surprise when Pastor Joel sent me the photo on the right. It is the Lorena Stove that they built! No more Three Rock stove for them. No more breathing smoke, no more cooking heat and money going up the stovepipe!

 
One quite another note, Vivian and I happen to also have a new (100 year-old) cookstove in our house. Living in the Northwoods, winter is not the same without a wood-burning kitchen stove.
This one was given to us by some friends (Thanks!)
What happened to our old kitchen stove? It is now out in our Swedish stuga. I call that our old stove, but it is actually newer than our new stove! (If that makes sense to you)

***************************************** 
If you would like to help the children of the Log Church Orphanage of Kisii, Kenya, you may make your check out to "The Log Church" and write "Orphans" on the memo line.

Send it to:The Log Church
PO Box 68
Tripoli, Wisconsin 54564

Every nickel given in this way will be used for only aid for the orphans. It will be used for purchasing food, clothing, schooling, and other necessities of living. Nothing is held back or diverted for any other purpose

STUMBLING BLOCKS


It is an interesting term – stumbling block. I seriously doubt if anyone ever set out to purposefully make an actual stumbling block. You can't go on YouTube for an instructional video, and I am quite certain that none of us have ever seen an object that we would recognize specifically as a stumbling block. We have never walked through a museum looking at historic artifacts, and seen a display of a block of some sort with a little identifying placard that said “Stumbling Block,” explaining its use and origin.

Nevertheless, despite this lack of experience, none of us have any difficulty knowing what is meant by the term. It is not difficult for us because all of us have stumbled over something or another at some time in our lives. We know what a stumbling block is.
 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

DISCIPLESHIP AND THE TONGUE


Getting the Small Things Right

In our reading today (Mark 8:34-38 - in footnote below), Jesus was explaining to his followers what it means to be true disciples. He used phrases such as “let him deny himself” and to “take up one’s cross.” What does he mean by these things?

Jesus then says, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s shall save it.”

Jesus was actually preparing his disciples for the fact that he was soon to be crucified. He told them, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

But Jesus was doing more than preparing his followers for that particular event. He was also teaching them the way of a true disciple in this present life. He is talking about things to which you and I should also listen. He is speaking of a life of self-denial. After all, he also asks the rhetorical question, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Then Jesus says something that may be particularly disturbing: “For whoever is ashamed of Me in My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” 
 

Friday, August 2, 2019

KISII REPORT - WHY IS FOOD SO EXPENSIVE IN KENYA?



The question I am often asked—“Why is the food so expensive in Kenya?”

How much is it? I used to give the round figure of $1000 per week to feed all the orphans and the workers. That is about 50 people, which works out to about $20 per week per person.

But that figure is no longer valid. Because of poor crop yields, adverse weather conditions and growing demands upon the food supply, prices have recently risen significantly.

Below are the prices that the Log Church Orphanage last paid in comparison with previous prices. I am giving the prices as Pastor Joel gave them to me last week (in Kenya Shillings). One Ksh in dollars equals 0.0097 at today’s exchange. That is close to a penny per shilling.

I usually just do my conversion simply by moving the decimal point to the left two places, and I figure it is close enough. But I know that there are some out there that like things exact, so I have also made the conversions to dollars. I have not however, done the kilogram to pound conversion. Maybe that is your thing that you like to do. If so, let me know how it compares with food here in the US:

Maize – was Ksh.8000 ($77.60) per 100kg. The new price is Ksh.15,000 ($145.50) per 100kg. That is an increase of Ksh.7,000 ($67.90) per 100 kg. (getting close to double the price)

Rice – was Ksh.8000 ($77.60) per 100kg, Now Ksh.10,000 ($97.13) per 100kg. That is an increase of Ksh.2,000 ($19.40)

Beans – was Ksh.15,000 ($145.50) per 100kg, but now is Ksh.25,000 ($242.50). That is an increase of Ksh 10,000 ($97.13)

Vegetables – I have no former price, but the orphanage spends Ksh 3000 per day for these ($29.14)

According to the World Economic Forum, the people of Kenya use 46.7% of their income on food. That is the second highest in the world. It is higher only in Nigeria, where they spend over half their income on food.

What do we spend in the US? The least in the entire world – 6.4%

Of course, this is more than a function of food prices alone. It also depends upon wages. But after all the calculations and comparisons are done, the end result always comes to this: How difficult is it to feed my family?

If you Google the price for food in Nairobi (the capital city), you will find that the cost of food for one person per month is Ksh 19,000 ($184.30). If you were feeding 50 people, as we do at the orphanage (42 children plus staff), that comes to Ksh 950,000, or $9,215.00 per month.

Joel tells me that the orphan workers figure that they spend Ksh 798,000 ($7,740.60) per month. That works out to $154.81 per person per month.
 
So, instead of the round figure for food of $1000 per week as I used to say, I think today it would be getting close to $2000 per week. What I am able to send does not approach this amount.

The people of the church in Kenya bring food items in for the children, but it is an area of quite severe poverty, so there is no abundance of food. But God is feeding His children, despite outward difficulties.

So these are the food needs. But of course there are many other necessities in raising children.

School shoes –  (42 Black Bata shoes needed) one pair cost Ksh.2200 =$21.37.

Clothes – one pair full cost Ksh.1000=$9.71. Clothes for 42 children are needed. Certainly they pass on clothing from child to child, but clothes do eventually wear out beyond repair.

20 Mattress are needed. One mattress costs Ksh.4500=$43.71. They are only a thin foam covered by cloth, and they eventually also wear out.

Blankets – 20 are needed at Ksh 800 each ($7.77)

Bed sheets – 20 are needed at Ksh 700 each ($6.80)

School – the children are now on holiday for the month of August, but when classes again begin in September, the school costs will run about $1200 per month for all the children (about  $28.50 per month per child).

Many people tell me that they are praying for all of these needs of the orphans of the Log Church Kenya. I believe in prayer and I have seen and been the recipient of genuine miracles directly as a result of prayer. So I will say, if that is what God is telling you to do – only bring the needs to him in prayer, thank you so much! I know that God will honor and answer your prayers.

At the same time, if God is telling you that you should also help in a more tangible way, but you only are willing to pray and nothing more, I do not have the same assurance that your prayers have any effect. Would you think that God actually pays much attention to the prayers of those who are not following what he is telling them to do?

“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, ‘Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,’ but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?  So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

And to all who have helped by sending funds for the needs of the orphans, I also say thank you so much. The money is not wasted, and it goes 100% for the needs of the children.

If God is asking you to give, I encourage you to loosen up those purse strings a little. I will tell you that you will not be sorry. There is nothing that feels quite so good as obeying the Lord.

***************************************** 
If you would like to help the children of the Log Church Orphanage of Kisii, Kenya, you may make your check out to "The Log Church" and write "Orphans" on the memo line.

Send it to:
The Log Church
PO Box 68
Tripoli, Wisconsin 54564

Every nickel given in this way will be used for only aid for the orphans. It will be used for purchasing food, clothing, schooling, and other necessities of living. Nothing is held back or diverted for any other purpose

Sunday, July 28, 2019

THE PROBLEM OF HUNGER - (part 5)



 
FAMISHED FOR THE WORD
 
In our speaking of hunger, we have seen a relationship between physical and spiritual hunger that is not often recognized by most people of the world. As a physical life cannot be sustained without physical food, neither can a spiritual life be sustained without spiritual food.

God has given us physical hunger so that we can learn that life itself depends upon him. It is not difficult to see that we need the physical food from his creation to sustain us in body. We become aware of that every day, usually around breakfast time.

From this observation, we should learn that even in our souls and in our spirits, we need his life-giving spiritual food. Receiving spiritual food is not simply a one-time event when we are saved, but just like our physical food, but we need it continually—even every day. As with our experience in our physical life, our spiritual life may have come alive when we are born again, but it needs to be sustained to remain healthy. 

The Physical and the Spiritual

Ours is a world culture that is centered on the physical. Watch any TV show, look at any of the advertisements, pick up any magazine, walk down to the mailbox and get your mail, look at the billboards as you are driving—in every single aspect of our life in the world, we see the emphasis on our physical well-being.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

NATIONS


One of the most intriguing statements in Scripture concerning human history was made by the Apostle Paul when he was addressing the people of Athens in the Aeropagus of that city in Greece. The citizens of Athens had invited him to speak on his beliefs about God, since Paul was bringing to them some teachings that they had not before heard.

The Athenians were polytheistic in their beliefs, meaning that they had many gods. There were hundreds of images of various gods sculpted in stone that lined the streets of the city. In case the people had missed one, they even set up one captioned with the inscription, “To An Unknown God,”

A visitor to the city, one Epimenides from Crete, after viewing these statues as he walked the streets made the comment, “Finding gods in this city must be easier than finding men.”

Friday, July 19, 2019

KISII REPORT - LOG CHURCH OF KENYA

The Church in the Beginning
Since my main concern in these Kisii Reports has been for the orphans and their provision, I have not written much about the Log Church of Kenya itself.

It is not an old church, having begun under the shade of a canopy of branches only a couple of years before the Lord also called me to be involved.

I think that I must have mentioned that it was begun by four friends who felt a burden for the area, Pastors Joel, Vincent and Douglas, and Elder Benjamin. These men work very hard, visiting the houses of the area and telling the people about Christ.
 
Kenya is a country that is strongly Christian in their present-day culture, but in that remote area, there is still much paganism and witchcraft. The story of Jesus is new to many people.

 

The Size of the Church
When I First Visited in 2017
The church in Kenya is growing quickly. They no longer meet under a canopy of banana leaves, but have put up a mud building (wattle and daub).
 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Problem of HUNGER - (part 4)


Why is there Hunger?

God has created us hungry beings. We need food every day—and it is not only us. Every living creature requires daily nourishment of some kind.

Why did God do this? Why is there even such a thing as hunger?

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Problem of HUNGER - (part 3)


AILMENTS OF THE HEART
 
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

This is the advice that the writer of the proverb gives to us (Proverbs 4:23 ESV).

We have been thinking of the subject of hunger and comparing the hunger that we feel in our bodies to the hunger of our souls, or the hunger in our hearts. I have spoken of the similarities and the differences between the literal physical food that we eat, and the spiritual food that we need to feed our hearts.

The central issue of this theme is contained in the words of Moses when he summed up the forty-year lesson of the wilderness experience. The lesson was that the people should come to know that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

I also quoted Jesus, when he told the great crowd of five thousand people, “Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life… I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger.” (John 6:27, 35)

Jesus was speaking primarily of spiritual hunger of course, but he was not ignoring the fact that our bodies also need physical nourishment. The day before Jesus spoke the words above, when that same crowd of people had become hungry, the disciples wanted Jesus to send them away, because there was nothing to eat in that place.

The response of Jesus to the disciples concerning their proposal was, “You feed them.” 


Feeding the Orphans

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Problem of HUNGER - (part 2)


The Blessings of the Wasteland

Hunger of the heart has many symptoms similar to hunger of the stomach. When speaking of the heart, I am of course using it in a figurative sense as it is used in the Bible and as I did in part one of this series. The word is used to speak of our spiritual lives.

Jesus speaks of the heart as being an indicator of the spiritual condition of a man: 

The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 BSB) 

And, as the proverb puts it: “As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the true man” (Proverbs 27:19 BSB).

What is it that your heart is reflecting for all to see? 

Friday, June 28, 2019

KISII REPORT FROM PASTOR JOEL

Dear Beloved Dad, Mum and Church,

Greetings in Jesus name, we thank God for you all, for your prayers and financial support to make these children have hope and to know that God is the provider.
 
Thanks for your donations hereby we praise God for every remembrance of you all, surely if not you and support these children could have not known that God is the answer you have made the church in Kenya to grow spiritually and through your prayers we have reached more souls for the Kingdom.