05 May 2015

Christ's invitation is to join him in the yoke; recovering my life as I walk with him

 "If we set out to serve God and do his work, but get out of touch with him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelmingly crushing. But if we roll back on God the burdens he has placed on us, he will take away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness and understanding of himself and his presence.

"Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon crushed and defeated. They do not know what to do with their burden and it produces weariness in their lives.

"You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God's shoulder. Commit to God whatever burden he has placed on you. Don't cast it aside but put it over onto him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship."  
~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Come to me, all you that are weary 
and are carrying heavy burdens. 
I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me - 
for I am gentle and humble in heart - 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30

"Christ’s invitation is to join him in the yoke so you can walk and work together. He doesn’t want just your burden - he wants you! God’s goal isn’t simply to give relief by removing a weighty trial; he longs to draw you to himself in a close and trusting relationship. As the weight of the affliction shifts from our shoulders to his, you will discover relief, although the situation may remain unchanged. Being yoked with Christ results in rest for your soul." ~ Charles Stanley, pastor and founder of In Touch Ministries

Are you tired and worn out?
Come to me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. 
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28-30, Message 

15 April 2015

Trip to the coast - A long train ride home

This was my second time to take a train to or from the coast. The first time it took 20 hours; this time 29!

The views outside the windows are stunning. These Baobab trees are growing in a Sisal plantation.

Hannah and I spent two hours in the cab with Edward, the engineer.

We had a 'sundowner' glass of wine while we watched this beautiful sunset.

You can see photos from my first train ride, with Ryan, by clicking here.

All photos except the first one, which is mine, were taken by Hannah

14 April 2015

Trip to the coast - Diani Beach

Sunrise on Diani Beach, South Coast

We watched a LOT of sunrises and sunsets on our trip, and also watched the full moon rising over the Indian Ocean.

It was great fun watching several kite surfers in action.

We enjoyed feeding Bush Babies where we stayed at Stilts. SO cute!

This quite handsome gecko moved very fast!

These treehouses on stilts provide very nice accommodation and are very unique.

All photos except the last one were taken by Hanah

09 April 2015

Trip to the coast - North Coast

We enjoyed lunch with my long-time friend, Masha, at Milele Beach Hotel
Masha and I, strolling on the beach

We celebrated Hannah's birthday with a lovely dinner at Moorings

Moorings, a floating restaurant on Mtwapa Creek

We also had a nice time on two different days at Haller Park. The nature park and butterfly pavilion are located on a remarkable transformation of a quarry wasteland, an ecological paradise.

I've always had a fascination of - and love for - dragonflies. We sat on a bench and thoroughly enjoyed watching them.

Note: Most of these photos were taken by Hannah

08 April 2015

Trip to the coast - Wasini Island

Me strolling on the southwest end of Wasini Island at dusk, waiting for the sun to set

It was worth the wait!

The primary source of earning one's daily bread on the island is fishing

No one was around, so we did some swimming at this pretty cool pool - filled with treated ocean water.

Ryan and I met George during our visit to Wasini Island (my first of three visits). He's one of only a handful of Christians on the island, surrounded by Muslims. It was fun to reconnect with him after several years. You can see my 2010 posts about Wasini by clicking here.

These four photos show everyday life on the island.

Hannah went diving and I snorkeled at the coral reef at Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park. So many beautiful fish!

This represents what I saw (image from Google search)

We got to watch quite a display by several dolphins (image from Google search)

All but the last two photos were taken by Hannah

07 April 2015

Trip to the Coast - Mombasa

Aluminum elephant tusks, built in 1956 after Princess Margaret visited the city

"When I became a missionary I was taught to lay my life down for others. I was meant to serve but no one told me there should be a line. I felt guilty if I put myself before someone else's needs.

"The reality is, God doesn’t want me to be miserable. Saying no isn’t selfish; it is healthy.

"If I take care of myself first, I will have so much more to give away to others. Self care is imperative. It’s important to know my limits and set them. Breaks should be mandatory."
~ Sarita Hartz, What I Wish I'd Known About Missionary Burnout

With the concept of self-care in mind, Hannah and I took a 12-day trip to Kenya's coast a couple months ago. We had an absolutely fabulous time!

Engaging with some spice vendors at MacKinnon Market

We spent quite a bit of time strolling around Old Town

The unrelenting heat and humidity prompted me to get my hair cut.

Vendors on Mama Ngina Drive - green coconut water and cassava chips

Children know how to find respite from the heat!

Note: Most of these photos were taken by Hannah

03 April 2015

It is well with my soul; remembering God's assurance even in the midst of terrorism

Kenya Defense Forces at Garissa, during yesterday's terrorist attack
Since God has assured me, "I'll never let you down, never walk off and leave you," I can boldly quote:
God is there, ready to help; 
I'm fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?
Hebrews 13:5-6 (Message)

I will not be obsessed with apprehension. I will remember God's words of assurance and I will be full of courage. I will not forget to take a deep breath spiritually in order to remove any fear.

I will say to myself: "The Lord is my helper this very moment, even in my present circumstance."

Jesus Christ wants my absolute abandon of devotion to himself. My faith must be built in strong emphatic confidence in him. I create fear when I do not nourish myself in my faith. If I am identified with Jesus Christ, how can I suffer from doubt or fear?

My life should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief in him!
~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (personalized paraphrase)

Yesterday's terrorist attack at Garissa University College was perpetrated by Al-Shabaab, a militant group that is affiliated with the radical Islamist organization, Al-Qaeda. The siege left close to 150 dead and over 80 wounded.

Witnesses reported that the five attackers - who were heavily armed with automatic weapons and grenades - demanded that the hostages recite verses of the Koran to avoid being killed.

This tragedy at Garissa is the worst terrorist attack in Kenya since the bombing of the US embassy in 1998, in which over 200 were killed and 4,000 wounded. The style of attack used by the terrorists at Garissa was similar to the 2013 siege at Nairobi's Westgate Mall, in which approximately 70 were killed and over 170 wounded. There have also been numerous other attacks since October 2011, when Africa Union forces (including the Kenya Defense Forces) invaded Somalia.

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The Bible does not teach risk aversion. 
We are called to trust God in the face of uncertainty. 
~ Nate Killoren, missionary in Kenya (blog post about a theology of risk

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Radical obedience to Christ is not easy. 
It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. 
Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. 
But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. 
And he is more than enough for us.
~ David Platt, Radical

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 The world is looking for Christians who can stand up to 
every crisis, fear, trouble, and difficulty and remain calm and at rest in the midst of it all. 
The world needs to see God’s children trusting wholly in their Lord. 
The world must be able to point to a Christian and say:
There goes one who doesn’t fret or fear or run in times of trouble. 
He isn’t worried about tomorrow! His faith holds at all times!
~ David Wilkerson, American pastor, evangelist, and author

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I hope you'll take a few minutes to listen to this powerful rendition of an old hymn.
A very powerful line in the song - "The waves and wind still know his name."

People sometimes ask if I'm ever afraid in Kenya. My response is that there are many issues and dangers here, not just terrorist attacks. In fact, I have weathered many storms and difficulties during my 13+ years serving the Lord in this nation.

Oswald Chambers says, "If you have had a vision, seeing Jesus as he really is, experiences can come and go, yet you will endure."

"Moses had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going."
  ~ Hebrews 11:27 (Message)

What I know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that this is where God called me. My eyes are also on the One no eye can see. Likewise, my intention is to persevere, to keep on going in obedience to God's calling on my life.

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"A story that has emerged from Garissa offers us a powerful analogy. One of the students, Hellen Titus, told the Kenyan media how she was able to escape from the tragedy as the shooters hovered over her and her fellow students. She covered herself with someone else’s blood and was thereby mistaken for dead. That is exactly what Jesus has done for us; He invites us to be covered with His blood so that we can live. And when we are thus protected, we may grieve, but we do not grieve like those without hope, and we do not fear those who can only kill the body but cannot touch the soul."
      ~ JM Njoroge, Where Was God During the Garissa University Terrorist Attack? (rzim.org/blog)
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I was in the Garissa area in late 2006.

Click here for several photos that will give you a feel for the area.