Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Life

Tonight we got a phone call from one of our campuses where Freshman have just arrived. A group of our upper classmen and staff have gathered to spend the week together, using the mornings to study and grow in their faith and the afternoon and evenings to knock on doors and share the gospel with the freshman. When I answered a giddy staff member with everyone else gathered around him told me that 5 had accepted Christ during the evening. With laughing and shouting in the background from the our crew we couldn’t talk for long before I just yelled, “AWESOME” into the phone and we hung up. Tomorrow and the rest of the week and weekend our group will go back out, knocking and sharing the good news with everyone that will listen. Keep them in your prayers

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

"You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden.”Matthew 5:14

I have spent the past few months absorbing and hanging on to encouraging words and truths not only from God but from Spiritual Giants in my life that the Lord uses to keep “my head up” per say. Just today I was reminded by Larry Parsley via podcast from 2009 that “Sometimes the only explanation for our struggles is to strengthen our faith!” I love it that God can use something Larry said 2 years ago and it be just what I needed to hear today after some discouraging news last night. It is the utmost example of God’s omnipotence.

I also love a book I’ve recently picked up about, well of all things, “Missionaries.” It’s a plea from Beth Moore to earnestly pray and partner with missionaries around the world. I’m so thankful she wrote this book and that she “gets” how desperatly we need our community of believers to partner with us.

Believers in Christ are supposed to be completely connected, not in spite of our varied locations and vocations, but because of them. We are a family, but fragmented; we’re a dysfunctional one. The divine idea for full-throttle function was that God’s people would operate as one entity-or one body-in each generation. We’re meant to be like multicolored Christmas lights attached to one electrical cord called the Holy Spirit and strung strategically all over the earth. Millions of lights on one cord, with the guts to shine more brightly because we KNOW the others ARE there. “You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me.” Isaiah 43:10. Witnesses is plural, servant is singular. The entire people are as one servant in God’s eyes. We are each witnesses in a host of ways, but God’s entire people on earth at any given time constitute His Servant-(singular). Her point. You are also called to the world in partnership with missionaries. Likewise, they are called to local missions in partnership with you. This is our “partnership in the gospel” Phil 1:5. It all begins with AWARENESS of each other.

This has meant so much to me since being here. Away from comforts of home and extended family and friends. My survival this year is no doubt a testament to those of you who already “get this”. I didn’t until actually being here. I didn’t realize how powerful those prayers were across the ocean keeping those Christmas lights turned on. I didn’t realize the power of the Holy Spirit. What encouragement and comfort a message from a friend or stranger that a friend had asked to pray for me could mean. I am guilty of Not praying for missionaries enough. I didn’t understand the power. That it’s only by the lifting up of those prayers that I believe those lights don’t break apart. I feel the prayers and they keep me afloat. I thank those of you who have taken this partnership so seriously. I thank you with all my heart and beg of you that you keep us on your refrigerator or mirror or steering wheel or wherever it is that reminds you to keep lifting us up so that the Holy Spirit can work through God’s Servant-(singular-all of us in partnership with Him to reach the ends of the earth).


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Attitude Check?

I can't remember if it was from my Kanakuk days or sometime before that, but I do remember when someone would yell "attitude check?", if you were in ear shot you'd yell "praise the Lord!".

Just as I sat down to write this, Helen, one of our house staff walked in and said, "Tom I hear water in you bedroom." I love the sound of water. When it laps against the side of a boat in the middle of the lake, when it crashes onto the shore at the beach, when it flows through the rapids of a river, but no so much when its coming from my bedroom. I ran in to find the hot water heater spraying water all over the closet. The room was full. "Attitude Check"? "What in the world, Lord"!

Today we received news that a missionary that run an orphanage just 30 minutes away was killed last night, his wife raped repeatedly and two children witnessed the whole thing. It reminds me where we are, what we do and how much I've really laid at His feat. "Attitude Check"? "Really, God"!

This past Thursday I got a text from Jonathan, our Egerton University staff director. His text read, "Riots on campus, pray for our safety and pray they don't send us home." Students had been without electricity for 3 days and hadn't been able to cook. They got frustrated and started a riot. Friday by 4pm the campus was closed, students were sent home and the amazing momentum among our students was stifled. "Attitude Check"? "Come on Lord"?

Friday I walked out to start my car. Elias another of our house staff said, "Bwana, you have a puncture (flat)". The day before I had dropped $415 on car repair, one of which was putting a slim in the tires to prevent flats. "Attitude Check?" "You've got to be kidding me!"

This weekend we had our staff retreat. We met at an amazing place 1 and 1/2 hours into the bush. Our cell phones didn't work, the electricity was off when we arrived, baboons yelled and screamed all night. It was amazing! Our staff was able to bond, to rest, to recoup and reenergize. Sydney and Raegan ran around the property like two Masai warriors all weekend (well Masai warriors equipped with lightsabers). I woke up this morning with gout in my right ankle screaming pain. "Attitude Check?" "Pass the pain pills!"

In one of our sessions, Solomon, our campus directors in Eldoret shared about 10 new guys on his campus that were starving for anything spiritual he could give. In November when we met as a staff, Solomon had shared how defeated he felt. He said it was like there was a large cloud over the campus and his weekly door to door evangelism was fruitless. He had two guys that he had to chase every week to connect on campus with. Fast forward to Saturday morning and Solomon was late to the retreat because these 10 guys were packed in his house all night for a sleepover, where no sleep was had because they just wanted to talk Jesus. "Attitude Check?" "PRAISE THE LORD!"

I don't want to sound spiritual, I don't want to be the missionary who's suffering for Jesus, I'm not interested in being the poster child for Faith. My Pastor is the spiritual one (& will run spiritual soundingness around your pastor any day :) ), the missionary who lost his life last night is the one suffering (well his family) for Jesus, and the poster child for Faith can be someone else thats much better looking and really does live by faith daily. But tonight, tomorrow, this week I'm walking in celebration of 10 men who can't take their eyes off Jesus and a sold out staff guy that stuck with it.

"Attitude Check"?

Thursday, February 17, 2011


This past Tuesday night I was able to spend some time with a group of our students at Egerton University, just outside of Nakuru. The group gathered in the JFK commons, we drank tea, ate cake and I shared some thoughts with them. Our campus director, Jonathan and his group of key leaders are doing such a great job of brining in our 1st year students (freshmen) and investing in their lives. Its fun to not know faces and meet them for the first time. Its fun for them to have no idea why they've gathered to hear me speak because their connection to the ministry is not me, but our staff and student leaders. And its really fun to hear how they came to be apart of the ACO ministry. I met one young man who door was knocked on during orientation week, when he answered two of our 2nd year students asked if they could come in.
I loved how he put it; "I come from a very simple life. We have no electricity at my house, and we go and get the water from the river to cook, clean and drink. When it is night, we sleep and when it is day we work or go to school. I was alone in my room, I had light and water down the hall and was just sitting waiting for something. When the knock came, my life changed. They told me the story, invited me to Bible study and we've been at it ever since. This guy (pointing to one of our 2nd year students who leads a Bible study) he's my mentor, he's my father in Christ."
I got chills! This young man was apart of the GENERATIONS that we long for, talk about, plan for, train for and invest in. This weekend he'll be apart of the One Day gathering for students led by our campus staff at Egerton. I'm praying that he'll get to see three generations of disciples that are ahead of him (Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors) and be excited about carrying on the tradition of knocking on a door next fall, introducing a young Kenyan man from the bush to Jesus, and begin to teach him what he's learning now.
Earlier in the day I visited our new Community Partnership at Njoro Central High School. The school is about 5 minutes from the Egerton campus and is a new site for our students we are discipling to invest their time in. The high school is 5 years old, has 196 students in grades 9-12. Our ACO staff person in charge of community partnerships has done a great job in preparing the way for the Egerton students to get plugged into the lives of these high schoolers through Bible studies and mentoring. They principle who showed us around was so excited about their newly completed science lab. She laughed nervously when I told her that I blew up my lab station in high school because I didn't pay attention to the instructions and just started mixing chemicals.
She said, "bwana Tom, you must be a Peter. One who jumps in faith and realizes what you're doing in midair or a few steps in." I smiled and told her that was the best compliment I'd ever been given.
Have you jumped today?... In the Faith that you hold so dearly, that you sing about on Sunday mornings in worship, in the book that you carry in your hand or that sits on your bedside table filled with stories of jumping? Another GENERATION has the potential of promise because two sophomores knocked on a door not knowing what was on the other side. I wish I had the Faith of Peter most days. Do you?

Monday, January 31, 2011

This past week I loaded up and headed to Nakuru & Eldoret. I camped out Coppell style (under a roof, with mattress, & hot water) in Nakuru and made a day trip to Eldoret. I stopped along the way to deliver cookies to my police friends that saved me from my middle of the night flat tire ordeal. They were happy to see me.
Our Eldoret team are ALL STARS! They're really excited about graduating their first class this spring and are challenging them to go out into the communities God puts them in and make a difference. I'm really looking forward to an amazing semester. I got to spend time with some of the key students in their ministry at the main Moi University Campus.
ACO staff across the country are excited about plugging in their new Compassion International students. The Nakuru team is in the process of adding 2 new high schools for our college students to begin working in each week. The Nairobi staff are once again leading Saturday morning discipleship training seminars and will try to add a few more OneDay events to create a buzz on campus. I'm looking forward to meeting new faces on the Kenyatta campus just outside Nairobi and traveling to see our staff in other cities.
Nathan-Raegan & Sydney Grace are plugged into school and loving it. They had field day this past Friday and then a sleepover here at the house. Kerry has found a Bible study to plug into and is helping out at the kids school a ton. We're all looking forward to Nani (Tom's Mom) arriving next week.
We thank God for all of you that partner & pray with us! Can't wait to see what God has up his sleeve in the months to come.

My "Camping" Spot

Monday, January 17, 2011

Insurance...Who Needs Insurance

Today I got up, dropped the kids at school, swam a mile in the school pool, met a friend for coffee and was taken to jail. I really enjoyed the swim, had a great time with my friend and would rather not do jail again.
I'd write about the coffee discussion or what Raegan talked about on the way to school, but I bet you're a little more interested in jail. Aren't you.
I was pulled over because the car I was driving didn't have insurance. It actually had insurance but the correct sticker wasn't on the window. The policeman, Simon Peter (pretty funny) asked me if I had the new sticker. I looked through the whole car and didn't see it. His partner, Mary (ironic) then told me my choices. First, I could give them a ride to the Police station where they would then arrest me, thats right give them a ride. Second, they could tow the car and we could go together to the police station and they could arrest me (that would mean walk there). Third, I could buy them lunch. Yep, I know what you're thinking and I did just that. I picked the first choice. I drove myself to jail, its funny even now. Simon Peter, told me he'd detain me until I could pay the bail and produce up to date insurance. BUT, I didn't have the up to date insurance because the persons car I was driving was in the US today and for a few weeks longer. Somehow, my "I Love Jesus" status (see boys and girls don't knock it) got me an exemption to the rule. I was able to leave the car, get my friend I met for coffee to take me to the insurance agency and then return with my proof of insurance and post bail. I'm due in High Court #7 in the morning to plead guilty and pay my fine. They're serious about insurance here. When you visit you'll see how comical that is with what goes on during a normal day of traffic in this country.
Simon Peter & Marry were as nice as they could be. I got Simon's number and we're suppose to have tea soon. All in All quite a day. Some of you didn't understand when I told you over the past few weeks that every day in Africa is an adventure. Tomorrow, well tomorrow I'll be in High Court, no telling what will come of that experience.
Next time a US Officer of the Law pulls you over and your car registration is out of date or your insurance is void...smile, take the ticket and go on about your day. At least you're not in Jail!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fasten Your Seatbelt

In a few days we will board our flight back to Kenya. December has been a whirlwind of activity. We've loved connecting with so many of you and sorry for those of you who we missed. We're so thankful to our Pastor, Larry Parsley and the staff at Valley Ranch Baptist for allowing Sydney and Nathan-Raegan to be baptized on December 6th. What a joy as parents to see our kids take the "holy swim" with such an amazing church family. We are grateful to all of you who took the time to share a coffee, stop by a jewelry party or buy us a meal. Thank You!
We were blessed to spend New Years Eve with two families that we graduated from Ouachita Baptist with. After an amazing steak dinner and a few furious games of Wii Party we brought in 2011 and then settled around the dinning room table to catch up on stories. Its been a long time since I laughed so hard and so long. The second part of 2010 was not the easiest of walks, but the Lord always knows how to refill your cup at just the right time. I'm in debt two those two couples and thankful that they were what God needed them to be as their company energized my soul.
In my quiet time over the past few days I've started a book my father gave to me in 2005. The first day clarified what my focus for the year will be (hopefully it will start a habit that will last a lifetime). The author eluded to three ways that Believers use scripture. The first is from a devotional approach, being encouraged by scripture as it is read and processed. The second is from a 'looking for life answers' approach, seeing what Scripture says about living life and how to make it through the difficult times. The third (the authors suggests is the most important) is spending time in Scripture to learn the mind of Christ. The idea has really stumped me and it intrigues me to begin the journey of having Christ's mind over this next year. How He thinks, How He acts, How He reacts to everyday situations. I've prayed for awhile now that I would have His eyes & ears as I wander through the day. I'm now adding to my prayer..."Lord, give me your mind today". As I spend time in your Word, as I walk in your Call, as I sit down and stand, let me think like you.
I hope that as you fasten your seatbelt and begin this new year that your days will be filled with chips and salsa, evenings with never ending Dr. Pepper fountains and as you lay your head down on your pillows Hot Tamale candies will dance in your minds.
And as I hope for those things, I pray that you'll see Christ come alive in your life in ways you can't imagine in the months to come.
Come and see us in 2011!