Thursday, September 20, 2018

KISII REPORT #15

 It is good to see that we are able to actually begin to see our home for the children take shape. Seeing these photos reminds me of my old days with the Peace Corps and especially with Teen Missions.
In many ways, I would like to be there, but in some other ways, I am glad that I am not (It looks like a lot of hard and hot, sweaty work).






Please also remember to pray for all of the other needs of the orphans as well, especially for food but also for clothing, schooling and other needs of life. These never cease.
We also have a L-O-N-G ways to go before we have enough money to complete the building. We are trusting the Lord -- that is all we can say and what we do.
 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

KISII REPORT #14


This ground is being prepared in faith.

As I have mentioned several times, from the beginning this work of the orphanage has been a step-by-step process. Even before I became involved, the church in Kisii had taken these orphans in without any outside support whatsoever. They did it out of love, and they did it by faith.

Even when the people of the church themselves had next to nothing, by faith they brought the needs of these children to the Lord. It was also by faith the call came to me to give them assistance.

It is with gratitude that we have seen these children saved from the world. First of all, they are alive. If nothing had been done, I am sure that some or even several of them would not be alive today. Secondly, not only are they alive, but they are now part a loving family who will teach and display to them the love of Christ.

It is true that every step in this process has not been forward. After seeing all of our children being able to attend classes for two terms of school, this last term the school costs suddenly rose dramatically. Because of this, we have had to pull all but the eight secondary students out. At this present time, we are waiting on the Lord to show us the next step in this, for it is our belief that these children should be able to have the opportunities of an education.

But even more important than an education is a safe and healthy place to sleep. It is our current step of faith to begin construction on the dormitory for the children. We presently have enough resources to begin to build. We by no means have enough money for the entire building, but we trust God to provide as we take this next step of faith. At the present, it will be a big encouragement to see brick being mortared onto brick to begin to see walls erected instead of in a big random pile.

Kindly pray for this building to give some security to these children who have been rescued from the world. It is an important step, but the most important of all is that they are learning that true security can only be found in faith in Christ.

 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

THE MYSTERY OF GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE

As we saw two posts back, we have the many drawings that God has placed on the fence of his construction zone that are meant to show what the church will become and to help us to see what he is doing. In some ways, the more we learn, the more we understand. However (as I also before mentioned), in other ways, the more we learn, the greater the mystery becomes.

I wrote also of the “manifold wisdom of God,” of which Paul spoke. Without a doubt, there is still much that we do not understand when we speak in reference to Christ and the church. The truths concerning the church are very deep. 

The Idea Behind the Building

Nevertheless, there is one way in which we can encapsulate all of this information under one single theme. This theme is the one distinct purpose concerning the people of God that runs throughout not only the New Testament, but also throughout the Old. If we would come to understand this single concept, it would help us a great deal to understand all that God has done in the world, what his is doing in the present, and what he will do in the future.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

KISII REPORT #13

Count 'em (5,500)
It has been step-by-step. The first step was buying the bricks. Joel found a deal on 5,500 bricks that would be needed to build a safe and healthy place for the orphans to sleep.


Well… that was not actually the first step. The first step was deciding what type of building we would make. Making an adobe-type building would be very cheap, but in that wet climate, these buildings need constant upkeep, and in the end, they do not last long. I learned this in the last wet season.

But a building with a concrete floor, brick walls, and tin roof is very expensive—almost ten times as much as a mud building. Nevertheless, next to food and clothing, a good place for the children to sleep in the most important need. The conditions that they have at this present time create a lot of illness, especially during the rainy season. Because of all these considerations, a concrete and brick building this is the type that we have begun to undertake.

I have decided to include the materials list below, which also includes some labor costs. Much of the labor will be done by the church people, but there is some that they do not have the skills needed to do.

Ballast for the concrete
As you look at the materials below, you will notice that they have terms that we do not use here. The “ballast concrete” for example, is not concrete. It is the course material for the gravel/sand mix. “Rintals” are what we call rebar.

I have also had some well-meaning people in the US give me advice in cost reduction, for instance, using cement block instead of bricks. There are two things that I will say in response to this:

1: These people who have given me advice may be wonderful builders here in the US, but none of them that have talked to me have any experience at all in building in an overseas third-world country. They do not understand that you cannot simply transpose what is best here with what is best in these countries. I am not a builder by trade, but I have built or been involved with construction in several foreign countries, including India, Mexico, Venezuela and Guatemala. I have seen enough that I understand that one needs to listen to the locals.

2. Also, I still maintain a high level of trust with Pastor Joel and the leadership of the Log Church of Kisii. I saw how they deliberated over the smallest of purchasing decisions where the price difference was only two or three dollars. Joel is saving all of the receipts for the materials and everything that he has purchased, and I am planning another trip there sometime this winter. Perhaps there are some things that we could do to save costs, and sometimes a person from the outside is able to see these things, at least this has been my experience.

The list is below. “KSHS” stands for Kenya Shillings, the currency of the country. Since one Shilling is worth about a penny US, you can make a quick currency conversion by simply moving the decimal point two places to the left. Example: KSHS 80,000 = about $800. It is actually a little less than that but it is close. If you are a stickler for detail, you can find currency converters online. 

1.      Ballast concrete 5 Lorries@Kshs. 16,000 per lorry                              KSHS   80,000
2.      Sandys 8 lorries@Kshs 18,000                                                             KSHS   324,000
3.      380 Bags of cement@950 per bag                                                        KSHS   361,000
4.      5,500 bricks@Kshs. 15                                                                         KSHS   82,500
5.      Wall pass 1, roll@Kshs. 4,000                                                             KSHS   4,000
6.      16, Y 12 RINTALS@850                                                                    KSHS   13,600
7.      12, y 8 rintals@ Kshs. 500                                                                   KSHS   6,000
8.      Binding wire 1 roll@Kshs.3,500                                                          KSHS   3,500
9.      Ordinary nails 1 sack                                                                           KSHS   6,000
10.  Roofing nails@ Kshs. 6,000                                                                KSHS   6,000
11.  200, 14 ft pieces of timber 4 by 2@ kshs. 24 per ft                            KSHS    67,200
12.  180, 14 ft pieces of timber 3 by 2@ kshs. 2 per ft                              KSHS   55,440
13.  9 WINDOW STEEL@Kshs. 5,500 per steel                                        KSHS   49,500
14.  3 door@Kshs 12,000                                                                           KSHS. 36,000
15.  Iron sheet 180@1250                                                                          KSHS. 17,100
16.  Labour work cost                                                                                 KSHS. 175,000
17.  Transport cost                                                                                     KSHS. 152,000
     TOTAL KSHS.1, 438,840 

I will plan on writing more about this in the weeks to come as we think that we now have enough that we can actually begin to build. Because of some very nice gifts by people from some unexpected places, we have enough materials to begin. We do not have everything, in fact we still lack about $10,000. But we have the “ballast,” we have the “sandys” we have the bricks, and now we think we will have enough for the cement.

Oh, there is one more thing. Even in Kenya they have building codes, especially when building for children. When a government inspector visited the site where we are to put the building, he determined that it was not suitable to put the concrete directly on the ground. He told Joel that he needed first to apply a base of “marrum” (Neither did I know what this was and neither did Mr. Google, unless it is a village in the Netherlands).

Marrum (not the town)

But Joel sent me a picture, and I immediately recognized the type of material that he was talking about. I have seen it on building sites all over the world. It provides a hard and impermeable base on which to put the concrete so that the floor does not crack.
 
We have not forgotten that most of the kids cannot now attend school because of the high cost, but we consider this an even more important need.

That’s enough for now. More next week.
 
"Praise the Lord!"
"Amen"
"Praise the Living Lord!"
"Amen"

Monday, September 10, 2018

MANIFOLD WISDOM

(This is the second in a series of three sermons that I am giving at the Log Church to explain why I have invested my life into serving the Lord through serving the church. To read the first, scroll down past the Kisii Report to “The Mystery of the Church”)
********************** 
Here are some words of the Apostle Paul: “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:8-10 ESV) 

What is the “manifold wisdom of God” that the Apostle Paul is speaking about in this passage of Ephesians? What does Paul mean when he says this manifold wisdom will be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

KISII REPORT #12

Last week I gave a report about the school situation for the orphans in Kisii. It was as I understood it at the time. However, since that time, I have learned that things are not the same as they were the term before. It is not good news.

Somewhere during the interim between the previous school term and this term, the National Government of Kenya closed down the school that was in the vicinity of the church because they determined that the school was not providing the “standard education.” I am assuming that they made this determination because in their judgment it did not reach the levels of educational standards that they have set for their schools.

This has forced the children to attend another school where the fees are much higher. I am not speaking of just a small increase. Averaged over the entire school year, the cost per secondary school has risen from $38 for each of the three terms, compared to $366 for the cost per term in the new school. It has been a long time since I have been in mathematics class, but by my calculations, that is a 900 percent increase!

It is not quite that dramatic for the lower grades, but nevertheless, any time you multiply the costs by 42 (the number of children that we have in the school), the final product is a very high number.

And it is not only the school fees. There have been recent price increases in almost every sector of life in Kenya. One example is the cost of paper. Last year Kenya introduced a ban on plastic store bags to help combat litter and pollution in general. It was a noble move in many regards, but not one without negative consequences. Because the stores now need to provide mostly paper bags, it has caused a general paper shortage.

This shortage has put an additional strain on sending the children to school. Each student in secondary school needs to have 11 notebooks, at a cost of about $2 each (these are notebooks which I saw at the store here for 19¢). We have 8 children in secondary school, so providing notebooks for them costs an additional $176 per term. Keep in mind also that this is in an area where the average daily wage for a laborer is about $1 per day.

The reality of the situation at this time is that the cost of schooling has become so great that the school fees alone exceed the levels of funds that have been available to us. That means that even if we stopped buying food for the children and abandon plans to build a place for them to sleep, we still would not have enough money to send them all to school.

Because of this, we have decided to pull all of the children out of school except for the 8 secondary students. It is the final term of their school year, and since they are nearing the end of their education, we want to try and give them the most help that we can.

We have a saying in the US—“Education is fundamental.” It is an easy thing to say when the general standard of living is high. But education is not really “fundamental.” The primary things in life are food and housing. These things are fundamental for life itself.

Because of the present situation, we have decided to concentrate on these things until we see the Lord bring about a new way. We lay all of these difficulties at the feet of Jesus and wait to see what he will do.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH

For most of our adult lives, my wife Vivian and I have served the church. We have done this in many capacities, in many countries, and through many hardships and trials. 


Why have we done this? It is certainly not because we are such “good people.” Far from it. Rather, it is because we think that it is a wise investment of our lives. I am not speaking of investment in the same terms as does the world. This investment actually has nothing at all to do with money. 

This investment is because we have seen where God has decided to invest his efforts, and we believe that this also is the wisest use of our lives. He has given us some “inside investment information,” so to speak.
 
But this inside information is legal. In fact, it is actually not inside information at all and is available to anyone who cares to read the fine print. That simply means doing the work of studying the texts of the Scripture to see what God is doing in this world and why he is doing it.

This post and the next two of the sermons from the Log Church are the beginning of an explanation of why we think that this is such a wise investment.
 

Friday, August 31, 2018

KISII REPORT #11

School buses soon will once again be driving up and down our town roads, picking up kids. I saw one today. I don’t know if it was a practice run or if school has actually begun, but if it has not, it will in a few days. I was in Walmart the other day and overheard a 10 or 11 year-old girl complain to her mom that all her friends get their school clothes at Target.

These are the American traditions at the beginning of the school year.


It is also the start of a new school term for the orphans of the Log Church of Kisii. No school buses there of course, and no shopping for clothing. Also, although they are beginning classes about the same time as are the kids here, the school year in Kenya has a different schedule.

In Kenya there are three terms that make up the school year. The 
first term runs from January to March, the second term is May to July, and the third term September to November. They have three months of holiday during the school year, but it is broken up into three periods. The months of April, August, and December are school vacation months.

For Pastor Joel and all at the Log Church, it is a priority that the orphans can go to school. Despite the critical need to put up a building to give the children a safe and healthy environment to sleep, and despite the constant need to feed the children, the church is doing what they can to provide an education for the orphans.


When I visited there some months ago, the children were not able to go to a proper school, but now because of the provision of the Lord through some kind readers of this blog and of others who have learned of the need, they have been able to pay the fees to go to the local school near the church.

It is a stretch to do so. School there is not cheap. Since 2003, primary school was supposed to be “tuition free,” but it seems to that mostly what has changed is the terminology. There is no specific tuition fee, but there is an “enrollment fee,” and an “administration fee.”

Added to this are fees to take the exams, medical fees, money to buy the text books, the exercise books, pencils, pens, paper, plus physical education costs and even toiletries. The school uniform is $12 each and the pair of shoes cost $21 for each child (seems high to me).

Paying the various fees to go to school is a burden for every poor family in Kenya, but imagine having 42 children! I do not know how the numbers may have changed for this term, but this is the report for the previous term:

For the lower grades, Ksh.1,800 per child per term. (Kenya Shillings—each shilling is roughly worth on cent US, so just move the decimal point: Ksh 1,800 = about $18.00 US).
We have 10 orphans at this level: Ksh.1, 800x 10 children=Ksh.18,000 ($180.00)
Primary grades, Ksh.2, 000 and we have 24 children in this level
Ksh.1,950 x 24=Ksh.46,800 per a term. ($468.00)
Secondary level, we have 8 children: Ksh.3,800/child x 8 children=Ksh.30,400 ($304)

The total cost to send these 42 children to school is $952. For the entire year is 3 times this amount ($2856). Besides some other incidental cost like uniform and shoes.


Despite this financial burden, it is important to Joel and the staff to provide this opportunity for the orphans. Without at least a basic education, we can feed and house these children for a few years, but after that, what chances would they have in this world?


It is an encouragement to me to see that many of these children, who once had no one to care for them and who were found in the rubbish heap looking for scraps of something to eat, now speak of hopes of becoming nurses or teachers.



It is even more of an encouragement to me to know that they are now surrounded by a loving community who is instructing them in the ways of Jesus—and they do love Jesus. I have never seen more exuberant singing and dancing for Jesus from children as I did when I visited there.

“Praise the Lord!”      
         “Amen”
“Praise the living Lord!”
        “Amen!”

Sunday, August 26, 2018

THE SIGN OF A NEW CITIZENSHIP


These are the last words of Jesus after he had risen from the dead as they are recorded in the gospel of Mark. He spoke them to his disciples just prior to his ascension into heaven: 

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:15-18 NAS) 

Of course, what we tend to do with these verses is what we do with nearly all of Jesus’ teachings—we try to reduce them to a formula or a ritual. So then, because of this unfortunate habit of ours, we have believers who think it must be a sign of true spirituality to speak in tongues, so they teach others how to speak in tongues, as if it were the next course in our spiritual education program. We have believers who think that it must be a sign of true spirituality to be able to handle poisonous snakes, so in their worship services there is a time set apart for snake handling.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

SAVED FROM THE WORLD

“Salvation” or “being saved” are terms that are thrown around a lot in Christian circles. They are good terms and they are Biblical terms, but often we do not understand exactly what it is from which we need to be saved. We think of hell—we need to be saved from hell. We also think of being “saved from our sins,” (another phrase that means different things to different people). These are actually accurate descriptions of salvation, but these definitions alone do not give us the full picture of what Jesus is speaking of when he speaks of our need to be saved. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

NEW BOOK AVAILABLE NOW

My New Book now available.
You can go to Amazon to see the entire table of contents Witness- the Early Years , but it includes chapters that deal with such questions as:
- Why was eating of the tree of knowledge a sin? (I thought knowledge was a good thing)
Did God originally intend to keep us in ignorance?
- Cain brought a work of his own hands as an offering to God. Why did God not accept it?
- Who were the real “tormented souls” of Sodom and Gomorrah?
- What was the sound of battle that Joshua heard but Moses did not?
$16.95 from Amazon if you have free shipping
$14.00 from me if I can hand it to you - $17.50 if I send it (I can do this only for USA addresses) 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

KISII REPORT? LOG CHURCH SERMON? YOU DECIDE

Today we had a missionary speaker in our Log Church, so I did not have an actual sermon. Nevertheless, I did have a few words. Here they are:
************
Today, since we are going to be casting our eyes to other lands, I thought that I would take a few minutes and talk about Kisii. Although I have written into our prayers a prayer for them every Sunday, I have not spoken a lot in church about the situation in that land. There are a couple of reasons why I have not:

The first is that this is not something that I am assuming that everyone is interested in. It is a calling that the Lord has given to me, personally. The story of how the Lord called me to this involves the Log Church of Tripoli, and I have been very grateful when others have contributed money, clothing and school supplies, but it was God’s calling to me, and I do not want to make assumptions about others. God can also call others to this task if he so desires, and I am grateful when he does.

The story of how I first became involved with the church and orphanage in Kenya is a long one, and I wrote about it quite a lot on my blog page (this one), but the short of it is that, in the end, I simply could not turn my back on the orphans. God’s calling to me for this particular task came to me one day when I was preparing a sermon for a Sunday many months ago. The story I was dealing with was the very familiar one of the feeding to the 5000.

As you remember the story, when the evening came the disciples told Jesus to send the crowds away because the people were hungry.

“Let them go find food,” The disciples told Jesus.

Do you remember what Jesus told the disciples? “You feed them,” he said.

I realized that I was like the disciples. When it came right down to it, I had to admit that I did not want any part in the feeding of the orphans. The church was using my sermons that I placed on my blog page as part of their teachings, and I was happy to have that involvement in the lives of those people, but when it came to providing food—that I thought I would leave to someone else to do.
 
I was acting just like those disciples on the mountainside. “Send them away,” I had been saying in so many words. 
Jesus said to me, “You feed them!”

That was my calling. But just as in the story of the 5000, I had not much to give. In the story, all that the disciples had at their disposal was the lunch provided by a small boy—five small loaves of barley bread and two little fish—that was all. But in the hands of Jesus, this small lunch fed a multitude.

This is why I have not been making appeals for money for the orphans. I do appreciate those, just like the small boy, who give what they have to help, but I have not been making passionate petitions for funds. I am giving whatever becomes available, even small lunches, and giving it into the hands of the Lord. He is the one who is feeding the children—not me.

(Link to song on youtube by Keith Green) - A Billion Starving People - Keith Green

That is one of the reasons that I have not spoken much about Kisii. The other is this:

In our Sunday services, my concern is for you. That is why I work very hard to bring you teachings from the Word of God. I am concerned for each of your lives.

There is not much that I can do to help you in your physical lives, but God has placed me here to “keep watch over your souls,” as it says in the book of Hebrews. That is my concern on Sunday mornings.

I want each of you to grow in your Christian lives and to realize that your relationship to God should not only be one of the many aspects of your life —it should not even be the most important aspect of your life—it should be the only thing in your life.

All other things that we have in our lives are like cheap toys and trinkets that we buy at the dollar store. We use them for a couple of weeks until they are broken. They all just eventually end up in the landfill.

I want each of you to realize how rich you are in Christ, and to grow in him. That is my concern and my desire.