20140717 Appreciation of OTAS ministry

Trinity Baptist Church Nairobi – 2014 visit

Wednesday 9th

A letter of thanks from Murungi…

Read Murungi’s letter of thanks here
(PDF format 17/07/14)

Thank you for your prayers. The journey over was trouble free and only a little delayed. No sickness praise God! On the main flight from Paris to Nairobi I was sitting next to a Kenyan lady who lives in Paris called Lily. She was in her 20s and very pleasant company. I shared my testimony with her, and she seemed very interested. I asked her if she was a Christian, and she told me that she was and that she belonged to an "Adventist" church in Paris (7th Day Adventists are very prominent in Kenya). We had a number of conversations which demonstrated that, despite her claims to the contrary, her hope of salvation was based on keeping the law of God, and most especially some of the OT laws such as Sabbath keeping and food laws. When we were served what looked like chicken sandwiches, she would not eat because she thought it might be turkey (which has webbed feet and is therefore forbidden). As it turned out, they were ham, so it was definitely off limits for her. I pointed her to Acts 10 and Mark 7, and this made her think. I spoke about an inner purity that made food laws irrelevant now – we are pure from inside!

It was scary when I asked her if she kept God’s law perfectly and loved him with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. She was offended that I would suggest she didn’t!!! She told me how often she prayed as a proof of her love. It was tragic to see such a lovely lady so deluded, trusting in her own righteousness as the ground of her salvation.

Please pray for her. I have a real burden for her. I am hoping to send her some literature.

The first day of teaching has gone well. Some of the students have not been able to get here yet because of the unrest throughout the country, so please pray that they would arrive tonight. One man has just come so that is good. I have been teaching eight men today, including Noor the Somali, Vincent who is being prepared for the eldership and Noah who came out of charismaticism and was so powerfully moved last year.

We have got through lots of good stuff on evangelism and concluded that we should keep on preaching the gospel because Christ is still calling His elect unto Himself, and all the power of hell cannot prevent it. Amen!

Keith and Murungi send their greetings and their gratitude for sending me over. Keith is making steady progress and Priscilla is beginning to recover her strength. Please pray for physical health and strength and for spiritual wisdom in preparation and teaching. I am having dinner with Vincent tonight.

Warmest greetings from a few thousand miles away. May the Lord bless our brother Gary in his ministry today.

Thursday 10th

Picture of Keith and Vincent

Picture of Keith and Vincent

Dinner with Vincent and his wife Maggie went very well last night. He lives a couple of miles from the church building, but the road was so bad at one point that it was impossible to travel at more than 5 mph for fear of destroying the car! The weather here at present is cool (only 17 degrees)  and wet – it is winter over here! Strange to be near the equator and it is warmer back home!

(Vincent's wife), Rachel her sister and Priscilla

(Vincent’s wife), Rachel her sister and Priscilla

Vincent is one of the men being prepared for eldership. He is training in the PTC and he is a bright young man in his mid 20s. He is very spiritually minded, humble, open and hard working. His wife is a godly lady. It was a joy to get to know them better. They have so few possessions to clutter their lives, and they are full of joy in serving the Lord. Keith and Murungi are very encouraged and feel he may be ready for eldership within the next couple of years.

I have not yet met Eric, but his name has already been put forward to the church for consideration and early signs are positive. They are hopeful that he will join the eldership before the end of the year.

I was up very late last night preparing. The subject and the teaching is very demanding. Please keep praying.
This morning two of the four missing students had arrived, so there were 10 men for the teaching today. By the end of the day, a further two had arrived, so now we are nearly up to full strength. Praise the Lord for answered prayer.

The teaching has gone well, and I have felt greatly helped. We have covered the free offer of the gospel, the content of our gospel message, examples of evangelistic preaching in the NT and the dangers of "modern methods" of evangelism, such as the "altar call". We looked at Finney and his Pelagian teaching that sinful men have the power of will to respond to the gospel when preached. As a result, he introduced the invitation system, believing that he could win converts by the use of special methods. I have been reminded how dangerous this teaching is, and how in the end it destroys the gospel itself.

In Kenya it is a massive problem, and many of the men here have been really challenged. There has been much vigorous debate! Noah has been especially helped to "drop the altar call" altogether. Praise the Lord. God is working. Thank you for your prayers.

After dinner with Keith and Priscilla, we had the mid week prayer meeting. Earnest prayer was offered up. Fellowship is sweet. The believers are sincere and humble. God is good.
Greatly encouraged. Please keep praying. Tomorrow is further teaching on evangelistic methods and the doctrine of revival. Then in the evening is the Meaty Forum with the question, "What is more important, doctrine or holiness?"

Praise the Lord for your fellowship in this ministry.

Saturday 12th

It is mid-afternoon on Saturday here in Nairobi. The sun has finally come out and it has started to warm up (19 degrees). Winter here is so cold (or that’s what the Kenyans keep telling me!!).
Yesterday was a very full day. I had been up until the early hours preparing my material for teaching, and we started at 9am with a devotional from Vincent. He spoke well on how we should read and respond to scripture. It was warm and challenging. A good time of prayer followed.

The teaching then ran from 10am to 3:30pm (early finish due to the Meaty Forum). We covered Biblical methods of evangelism, the Church’s missionary responsibilities, and revival. It was a wonderful day. I have learned so much in my preparation and teaching. Two things stood out for me. Firstly, the responsibility of the local church in evangelism and mission. Who is to take responsibility for evangelism and mission? Not the individual Christian or the crusade organisers or the CUs or the para-church organisations but the LOCAL CHURCH. Local churches are called to evangelise their local communities and send out missionaries to preach the gospel to every creature. What a wonderful encouragement that God has called us to this work together, and He has equipped the church for this task. Praise His name.

The second encouragement was the reminder of the importance of revival. We looked at a man called John Sutcliffe, who was a Baptist minister in the mid 18th century. At the time hyper-Calvinism had almost wiped out all evangelism and mission in the Calvinistic Baptist churches, and they were declining. Sutcliffe recovered "the free offer of the gospel" while holding on to the sovereignty of God in salvation. As a result, he began evangelising and encouraging missions, while also recognising the need for God’s sovereign grace if the work was to bear fruit. So he called for his fellow ministers and churches to pray for revival on the first Monday evening of each month for an hour. This eventually led to the sending of Carey to India, the launch of the modern missionary movement and massive growth in the Calvinistic Baptist churches of his day. Could we not see the same today, in Kenya and in the UK? Brothers, LET US PRAY that it will be so!

There were 15 in the class at one point yesterday, with visitors joining us for part of the time. They are incredibly zealous and very keen. They listen well and they are so appreciative. It is very challenging for some of them, as they are coming out of charismatic backgrounds. Please pray for them all.

Pray for Barnabas, who has travelled from Mombassa where there is considerable unrest. Please pray that his wife and family will be kept safe and he will be restored safely to them when the teaching finishes next week.

Photo Of Hezbon (one of the students) carrying water to fill up the baptistry for the baptism of a young man tomorrow.

Photo Of Hezbon (one of the students) carrying water to fill up the baptistry for the baptism of a young man tomorrow.

Pray for Eric, the man who is being prepared for eldership. His son is in hospital as a result of severe flu, which has excited his asthma and he is in real difficulty. They have got him on a second course of antibiotics. He seems to be improving slowly. We will learn more tomorrow.

We left at bout 3:45pm for the Meaty Forum. The traffic was not as bad as usual and the 8 mile journey only took us 1 1/2 hours! The Forum commences at 6:00pm, but we only managed to begin at 6:15pm due to some delays in the sound equipment etc… The subject was "Is doctrine more important than holiness?" The past few Forums had been about doctrine, focussing especially on "The Five Points" (TULIP), so the men were concerned to emphasise that right doctrine MUST lead to holy living, otherwise we are deceiving ourselves and guilty of hypocrisy. Three of us spoke, and I dealt with the question, "Why is holiness essential if we are going to get to heaven?" I was given great liberty and there was silence after I spoke, with no questions forthcoming! Vincent got the questions going, and then they started to flow. Good, sincere, earnest questions. Discussion continued for an hour or so. It was very encouraging. Many of these young people are beginning to come to Reformed convictions and they are sincerely working through the doctrines and their implications. Praise the Lord for He is answering our prayers.

Photo of Barnabas Olare, student from Mombassa. He is in full time ministry, coming from a charismatic backgound. Wonderfully transformed. Lovely man!

Photo of Barnabas Olare, student from Mombassa. He is in full time ministry, coming from a charismatic backgound. Wonderfully transformed. Lovely man!

We got back around 10pm and after supper I was completely shattered. Slept so well that I was not woken by the howling dogs and screaming cats that regularly punctuate the night’s silence here in the city with their horrible din.

This morning I spent a couple of hours with Keith and Murungi talking about the future of PTC, the needs of the church and other matters of importance. It was a blessed time and we were all helped and encouraged.

Lunch was with Keith, Priscilla, Nelson and Brenda. Nelson is a deacon here, and a really good man! Brenda is his fiancée – they are due to be married in a few weeks. They are a lovely couple and it was wonderful to get to know them. He works the other side of Nairobi as a water and sanitation engineer. It takes him 3 hours to get to work and back on public transport every day!!! It is only about a 10 mile journey. He can’t walk because of air pollution and safety reasons.Having a bit of a relax this afternoon, hence the longer report. Will be preparing to preach tomorrow morning, and then for the teaching on the wisdom books (Job to Song of Solomon) from Monday. Dinner tonight with Murungi, Charity and family.

Brothers, please keep praying. Your prayers are bearing fruit for the cause of Christ in Kenya. He is glorified because you are praying. Praise His name.

Monday July 14th

Dear Brothers,

It is now 8:15pm here on Monday evening. Darkness descends around 6:30pm, so it is quite cool now. The Wi-Fi connection was down yesterday, and I have been busy all day today, hence the lack of a report.

The meal on Saturday evening with Murungi, Charity, Asaph, Ruth and Gaius was a real delight. They live at the back of the church building about 200 yards away in a small apartment. Charity prepared spaghetti with pork, vegetables and mashed potato. It was all delicious, with fresh fruit to-follow. The little girl Ruth is a real live wire, but Asaph her older brother is very patient and kind with her. Lovely to see. Great answer to prayer for the little baby boy, Gaius: tests have shown that he does not have spina bifida and he has been given the all-clear. Praise the Lord.

Murungi, Charity, Asaph, Ruth and Gaius

Murungi, Charity, Asaph, Ruth and Gaius

I was really shattered afterwards and crawled into bed! Sadly I was awoken several times by the cats and dogs, and at 7am the church down the road (about 500 yards away) began its healing and Spirit-anointing ministry led by the self-styled "Prophet Of The Lord." What a din! It went on (with a couple of breaks) all morning, and it was difficult to concentrate in the morning meeting because of the constant noise.

After breakfast it was down to the church hall to begin hymn singing around 9:15am. All the singing is unaccompanied. There were around 30 people gathered. Some hymns were chosen by members, others were explained by the leaders and there was opportunity to learn the "new one" (to them) that I had chosen: "O How The Grace Of God Amazes Me."

At 9:40am there was recitation of the memory verse for the week (II Corinthians 12:8&9) by both adults and children. There were around 40 gathered by this time. This was led by one of the students and followed by a prayer committing the whole day to the Lord.

At 9:50am the Sunday School classes began. There were three classes for the children (I think) and an adult class. There were about 30 adults gathered for this. Keith spoke well on the use of scripture in prayer. He used a blackboard for his headings and scripture references and sought participation from the group. It was noticeable that folks were expected to bring their own Bibles, and they learned to find their way around as Keith asked them to look up texts.

main morning worship

Main morning worship

At 11:00am the main morning worship began. The congregation numbered around 120 including all the many children! The memory verse was again put up on the screen, followed by prayer and two hymns. Keith led, reading from Isaiah 51 – part of a scheme whereby they read through the whole Bible systematically alongside the passage for preaching.

Then Murungi led the baptism of Kevin. He is a young man who testified that he had a false assurance of salvation for many years as a result of "going to the front" at an evangelistic campaign meeting. However, his life was not changed and he kept on sinning. Only when he came to TBC Nairobi and heard the message of salvation from sin by God’s sovereign grace did he realise that he was not saved at all! After a period of wrestling and struggle, he recognised his need of salvation, repented of his sins and was truly born again. That was about a year ago, and now he wanted to commit his life to Christ Jesus as his Lord. The testimony fitted in very well with the teaching I had been giving on the dangers of the invitation system.

Murungi led the baptism of Kevin

Murungi led the baptism of Kevin

I then preached from Genesis 12 on "Shocking Grace". I had much freedom in preaching, and I think I went on for a bit longer than usual! The message was warmly received and many folk were encouraged.

Virtually everyone stayed for lunch (which was rather delayed, Kenyan style) and there was very warm fellowship for the whole afternoon. I met a number of the older ladies who have been a rock of stability for the church and support to Keith over many decades. Every church needs their "sound and reliable older ladies" and it was a joy to meet them. There were so many young men that it was hard to count! Nelson who has recently joined the diaconate; Houston who is known as "the reformed rapper" (I have asked him to send me some of his raps – I am intrigued); Edwin who has travelled with Keith and Murungi to Pokot and Rendille on missions trips; Dominic who is in the PTC and runs the children’s ministry here; Charles, who looks after the sound, recordings, computers etc; and many, many more. There is so much to encourage with a warm spirit and true zeal. Home from home!

I met Eric briefly, whose son is unwell. He had to get back to see him in hospital. He values our prayers.

I also met Robert and heard his story about the transformation that took place while he was in Germany. Keep praying for him, that his commitment would match his understanding and love for doctrine. He has quite a high flying job and is not as involved in the life and work of the church as we would like to see.

Members and visitors from other churches gathered for the Lord’s Supper at 3:20pm. Others continued to fellowship in the main church hall or outside. I gave a brief devotional word on II Corinthians 5:21. Three new members were welcomed in, including Kevin who had just been baptised. At the end of the service I brought formal greetings from the UK and the assurance of our continuing interest, concern and involvement even after Keith retires. I think this was a great comfort and re-assurance to many. It was interesting to see how ALL the existing members gave the right hand of fellowship to the new members as they lined up at the door. This was a lovely touch and there was much warm affection and words of joyful welcome.

At 4:15pm we met for the afternoon service (15 minutes late due to the late lunch etc). Murungi spoke clearly on David’s prayer in I Chronicles 29:10-19: praise for the majesty of God, humble confession of sin and earnest petition. A great pattern for our prayers! Folk lingered afterwards, with some staying until 7pm. It was a wonderful day, but completely exhausting! Supper with Murungi’s family again – lovely chapattis with beef and cabbage.

The newlyweds: Stephen and Grace, Maggie and Vincent.

The newlyweds: Stephen and Grace, Maggie and Vincent.

Happy Ladies

Happy Ladies

Ladies Congregation

Ladies Congregation

Mens Congregation

Mens Congregation

Thankfully it was a good night’s sleep. In the morning, the shower was not working so had to wash myself in what can only be described as a large washing-up bowl. Not an easy task! However, it was done without any accidents.

After breakfast, Barnabas (from Mombasa) gave a wonderful and stirring word of devotion from Romans 11:33-36. He is a very gifted and godly man. The Lord could use him mightily. Pray for him and his ministry in Mombasa. I finished off the topic of revival, concluding with a reading about the revival that started with a businessmen’s prayer meeting in New York in the 1850s, and then spread over the whole country. Hundreds of thousands were saved and churches were packed. How we need revival today!

Then the rest of the day was on Hebrew Poetry and the Psalms. Not easy for the men. We had to work hard, but I think we made some progress. They are certainly serious about their studies. There are 13 men now, with the last man arriving early this morning. As I write (9pm) they are all reading and studying. Many of them have very little time for study when they are back at their homes, so stay up late here to do as much as they can. Brothers, PRAY FOR THESE MEN. They have so little, yet they want to serve God and they want to learn. Some of them have hardly any formal education, yet are absolutely determined to be equipped to preach. Pray that the Lord will bless them and answer their prayers.

Two more days to go. Tomorrow I need to finish Psalms, then plan to cover Job and Song of Solomon. Wednesday is Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. It is hard and tiring work, but massively rewarding.

Wednesday July 16th

By Wednesday at 4:30pm we had completed the demanding task of covering Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon in the three days. Phew! It was difficult work, but very rewarding. I have felt very much out of my comfort zone throughout the time. I do not have a seminary education myself, so teaching at seminary level is not at all easy. There is also a great deal of variation in the ability of the students, from those with very little formal education of their own, to those with degrees and a high level of understanding. Add to that the massive cultural difference and it is a real challenge. Thank you so much for your prayers which have sustained me throughout and given me the strength to persevere.

Oliver and Company

Oliver and Company

The names of the students seated from left to right are: Hezbon, Geoffrey, Barnabas, Stephen and Benson. Standing at the back: John, Vincent, Peter, Eric (not the man proposed for eldership), Caleb, Dominic and Noah. The Somali man, Noor, was not with us for the second week, although other did join us for some of the time.

On Monday at 5pm the students had a “debate”, which Keith came to supervise. Each side had to argue their case, with three men speaking for and against and the others “chipping in” on either side. The subject was not the main point, but the quality of their arguments. They all spoke well and there was much enjoyment of the process. Very worthwhile.

On Tuesday evening we had a lovely dinner with newlyweds Stephen and Grace (see photo above). Grace had attended one of the days of the studies last year covering the doctrine of God’s guidance. She had recently had a great disappointment with a man who wanted to marry her, but he proved untrustworthy. She was confused and seeking to understand how God would guide her to a godly husband. We spoke at length and she had been greatly helped. Exactly 12 months later (this May) she married Stephen, a godly man in his 20s brought up in the church. He works for a pharmaceutical company in Nairobi. We ate chicken, fried potatoes, mixed vegetables and fried cabbage with some chapattis. For sweet it was fresh avocado, mango, apple and orange. Lovely!

For lunch on Wednesday I visited Eric and his family. They live just round the back of the church. He is a quietly spoken but very assured man of God. He spoke wisely of his concerns for the church and his desire to serve God faithfully. He is spearheading a project that will hopefully lead to the establishment of a Christian School based at TBC. Education is a massive problem in the country. Many schools start at 7am or even earlier, and do not finish until late. They are taught in a very intense manner “by rote” and they are completely exhausted by the end of the school day. Parents are not allowed any input into the life of the school and are discouraged from participating in any way. It is an awful situation. Eric is hoping to have a school founded on Biblical principles with plenty of parental involvement. Pray for him in this.

It was good to share lunch with him, his lovely wife and three children. The little boy who had been so unwell in hospital was back home and making a steady recovery. Praise God for answered prayer!

Thursday July 17th

Wednesday at 7pm we left for the airport. It is only about 15 miles, but it took us 2 ½ hours! There were two accidents on the way, one quite bad. The lawlessness that prevails on those roads is quite frightening. Praise the Lord that we arrived safely. I parted from Keith and Murungi with great joy. The Lord’s work had been done for His glory and the fellowship had been sweet. The brothers had been greatly encouraged and the bonds of fellowship between us had grown stronger than ever.

The initial flight was delayed by about 40 minutes, meaning that I missed my connecting flight in Paris. I caught a later flight, which meant it was 22 hours from door to door. They lost my bags along the way too, so I had that awful experience of waiting at the carousel, and waiting, and waiting… They assured me they would be brought to the house when they arrived (which did happen on Friday afternoon).

Thank you all for your prayer support and encouragement. This is a body ministry and we can all rejoice in what the Lord has accomplished. Please see the copy of the letter from Murungi and Keith in the Welcome Sheet for July 20th. Praise the Lord!