And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying,
Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we
endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us
for to preach the gospel unto them.
It is such an amazing thing to see an absolutely practical application of the Word of God in our lives. You see, for those of you who have been following our journey thus far, you may have recognized, by now, that it is not that the devil was hindering our work for the Lord, in South Africa. But it is apparent that it is the Holy Spirit who has “forbidden us to preach” there. We were to minister in Pretoria but all the doors there were shut. There was a possibility for us to have travelled to Durban, but that would have not been to preach either — and the Holy Spirit “suffered us not to go”. So we left South Africa and came into Kenya, in response to an invitation. It is here, in Kenya, we understood why we were in Africa.
Acts chapter 16 has a very interesting account of the Apostle Paul on his first missionary journey. While reading this account again, at this time, it became more real and relevant to me. Paul was sent by the Jerusalem Church with decrees that sought to clarify the liberty of the non-Jewish believers regarding the matters of circumcision and the Law, which were previously being mandated of the Gentile believers. While in Troas, Paul had a night vision of a man of Macedonia calling unto him to “come and help us”. Paul saw this vision as being from the Lord and immediately made arrangements to go into Macedonia.
I find it quite fascinating that in this account, Paul and Silas made attempts to go preach the Gospel in Asia and to go into Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit “suffered them not to”. They were “forbidden to”. A very similar thing occurred with us in this, our first missionary journey. It is clear that we were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach in South Africa. After this I received a call to, “Come to Kenya and help us”.
Kenya is a beautiful country. Like many other African countries, however, it’s political past and history of conflicts have caused it to be somewhat ostracized by the West. It is rich in resources but many parts of the nation remain grossly under-developed. As one traverses the country one would notice pockets of prosperity. But again, it remains obvious that the gap between the haves and the haves not is ever so great. In spite of the great lack that exists and the very limited opportunities, one would encounter a people of faith.
One such man of faith is Pastor Isaac Ontinti. This is the man that reached out to us and called us to Kenya. He leads a community of believers in the Gucha district of the county of Kisii. The church is called Life Gospel Church Centre. He and his wife also runs a children’s home with 25 wonderful kids, who are being taught life from the Word of God.
Renee and I had the opportunity to minister at the church. She sang and brought greeting, while I ministered the Word, with the help of a translator. In the afternoon there was a meeting set up for me to minister to leaders of the church, men and women who love God and are desirous of growing further in Christ. Following that meeting, we had lunch and a time of fellowship with the leaders. Renee and I were then taken over to the children’s home. These children sang and danced for us and showed love, affection and unreserved acceptance for these two strangers from a country they had previously, never heard of.
The children in the home came from varied situations. Some of their parents were killed in armed conflicts that existed some years ago during episodes of political unrest. A few of them were rescued from abusive homes, which included, for at least three of the boys, buggery. The authorities rescued two other children, who were being sold by their parents (human trafficking) and brought them to the home.
Even though Pastor and Mrs. Isaac have three children of their own, they have accepted the responsibility to take care of all these children as their very own. “They are not referred to as orphans,” he said to me, “they are my children”. I am moved with compassion for these kids and sincerely pray that Almighty God would indeed give us the grace to truly help in a substantial way.
One of the cultural practices of many tribal people, is to give a new name to the visitor who has been accepted into their community. We understand that this is significant to the relationship that has been established and signals how the people have accepted the said visitor and in what capacity. After our time of ministry the senior elder at the church gave me the name Makori. Renee was named Moraa. He said that Pastor Isaac would explain its meaning. Later as We sat in fellowship with the leaders, Pastor Isaac explained that These were his grandparent's name. Being given this name was a powerful statement of the highest level of familial acceptance – grandfather. They accepted Renee and me not only as a friend and ministry partner. But also, to provide spiritual leadership and guidance to their entire church community. We are being called upon to disciple this people.
Psalm 37:23 says that, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” I am convinced now that our steps have indeed been ordered by God. He has lead us across the globe, not just to attend a conference and preach at churches. But to connect with this people in Gucha Kenya and more specifically, to connect with the vision He has placed upon our hearts — “To Disciple Nations”.